SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — June is Men’s Health Month, and Tuesday is National HIV Testing Day. With New York experiencing historic lows in new infection rates, NEWS10 spoke with an area provider on how they are getting the word out and getting folks tested.
The question is, how often do you get tested?
“I get tested at least every 3 to 6 months,” Jonny Puglia, Communications and Development Specialist with Alliance for Positive Health.
Puglia took the time to show the testing process and he tells NEWS10 why it is important to get tested.
“It’s not just gay men. We also have to realize that there are other groups that lack and have disparities and care like people of color and many people who don’t have insurance. We see those groups of the highest risk because they’ve never been tested before,” said Puglia.
New York may be experiencing an all-time low as new infection rates have plummeted 46% since 2011.
The New York Department of Health says there are more than 125,000 people are living with HIV. They report just over 2000 people tested positive for the virus in 2021, compared to nearly 4000 people a decade ago. Despite the downward trend, Puglia says relaxed testing during the pandemic may have affected these numbers.
“We have to bring people in, and people are not conditioned for that. Because there’s been several years of that and that’s the biggest thing. So, while that number is great it doesn’t tackle right now and what’s happening after now,” said Puglia.
“I was definitely scared, you know, just not knowing certain things, especially my first-time testing,” said Richard Ham, Public Health Specialist at Alliance for Positive Health.
Ham says the stigma of HIV is changing, “At the very first when I began getting tested it was a very cold process. It was like very medical. Whereas now you’re walking into a space with people who are open are people and are of different backgrounds and different experiences.”
Alliance for Positive Health has many ways to help the community get tested.
“We like to go in there and work with local organizations in the community and get there and make sure people know it’s free and it’s confidential. That’s a huge thing for people in small communities because everyone knows each other,” said Puglia.