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Lead the Way to offer free HIV testing on World AIDS Day

SAN DIEGO -- Lead the Way will offer free, confidential HIV tests to the community in honor of World AIDS Day, on Saturday, Dec. 1.

This year's World AIDS Day theme, "Getting to Zero," focuses on a world with zero new HIV infections.

"Part of the World AIDS Day ‘Getting to Zero’ theme is zero new HIV infections," said Joshua P. Romero, Lead the Way community outreach manager. "The first step in stopping new HIV infections is knowing your status. If you don’t know whether or not you have HIV, you don’t know if you could be transmitting the virus."

HIV around the world and in the LGBT community

On Dec. 1 of each year, people from around the world unite to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS and demonstrate international solidarity in the face of the pandemic. The World Health Organization (WHO) established the annual commemoration to spread awareness about the status of the pandemic and encourage progress in HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care.

According to WHO, HIV is one of the world's leading infectious killers, claiming more than 25 million lives over the last 30 years. In 2011, there were approximately 34.2 million people living with HIV. Over 60% of people living with HIV are in sub-Saharan Africa.

HIV also affects the local community. Every year in the U.S., 30,000 gay men are diagnosed with HIV. It is estimated that as many as one in eight gay men in the U.S. live with HIV. Of those infected, up to 25% do not know they are infected.

To help fight HIV transmission in San Diego, Lead the Way is providing free, confidential HIV testing on World AIDS Day.

World AIDS Day testing locations

On Saturday, Dec. 1, Lead the Way will provide free, confidential HIV testing to the community at the following locations, on a walk-in basis:

Medical Center Pharmacy
10 am to 4 pm
3904 Park Blvd. in Hillcrest

Lead the Way Storefront
10 am to 4 pm
3830 Park Blvd. in Hillcrest

About Lead the Way

Lead the Way is the nation’s first test and treat model for HIV prevention. Lead the Way operates a testing center and sets up mobile testing sites at a variety of community events and venues to offer free, confidential HIV testing to as many residents from the 92103 and 92104 zip codes of San Diego as possible. The program aims to find out whether or not people will test for HIV if the test is made readily available. Increasing evidence supports the idea that if everyone in the world were encouraged to be tested for HIV at least once in their lives; if HIV positive individuals were all offered treatment in the form of antiretroviral medications; and if high-risk individuals continued to be tested once each year, the risk of HIV acquisition and transmission could be markedly reduced.