NEW YORK, June 24 (UPI) -- A New York City initiative to increase HIV testing in the Bronx has boosted testing by 28 percent, city health officials said.
"The Bronx Knows," a borough-wide effort that involved clinics, hospitals and community organizations, provided voluntary human immunodeficiency virus tests to nearly 160,000 Bronx residents in the past year.
"Knowing your status is one of the best things you can do to stop the spread of HIV," Dr. Thomas Farley, New York City's health commissioner, said in a statement. "Bronx residents are taking the lead by getting tested. We thank the many groups and healthcare providers who helped make this possible, and encourage all New Yorkers who don't yet know their status, to get tested."
People who test negative can be reassured and learn how to stay that way by practicing safer sex and people who test positive can get the treatment they need and take even greater precautions to avoid spreading the infection to others, Farley added.
Some 3,787 New Yorkers were diagnosed with HIV in 2007 and 921 of them were already sick with AIDS by the time they learned their status -- meaning they had gone undiagnosed for an average of 10 years, health department officials said.
In the Bronx, 876 residents were diagnosed with HIV in 2007, and a quarter of them were already sick with acquired immune deficiency syndrome. Bronx residents account for nearly a fourth of the city's HIV diagnoses and more than a quarter of HIV-related deaths each year.