Today is National HIV Testing Day. With so much focus on HIV in Africa and other countries overseas, we often neglect to think about the HIV epidemic in the United States where more than 40,000 Americans are infected with HIV each year, and it is estimated that 250,000 people in the U.S. have HIV, but are not aware of it.
HIV counseling and testing is an essential component of public health efforts to reduce HIV incidence and to increase access to HIV care, treatment and support. Currently, PSI provides counseling and testing services in 21 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America & the Caribbean. As one of the first international NGOs to social market counseling and testing PSI's CT sites are linked by common brands which are positioned as symbols of hope and quality to help create awareness and generate demand for testing. In addition to branded advertising, PSI uses non-branded BCC campaigns to motivate people to learn their HIV status. Culturally appropriate, targeted mass media and interpersonal communication strategies also aim to reduce stigma associated with HIV testing.
These social marketing efforts have been effective in creating national dialogues on the importance of testing and in inspiring people to test. PSI has tested over 1.6 million people globally. So, in the spirit of National HIV Testing Day, I leave you with a few interesting examples of PSI's counseling and testing social marketing efforts.