Abbott Laboratories Sponsors Free HIV Testing Program for Communities at Risk

ABBOTT PARK, Ill. -- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 1 in 3 people in the United States who are HIV positive are unaware of their status. To combat this, Abbott Laboratories has launched a free national HIV testing initiative, "Testing Positive Doesn't Mean a Negative Life," in partnership with various AIDS Service Organizations (ASOs) across the country.

According to the CDC, approximately 25 percent of people who seek testing do not return for their test results. To overcome this barrier, many testing sites will be administering a new rapid HIV-1 antibody test, donated by Abbott, which provides test results in just 20 minutes.

"Abbott understands the need to overcome barriers to effective HIV education and believes testing is the first step to accomplishing this goal. Armed with their status, people can protect themselves and others from contracting the disease," said Jodi Devlin, divisional vice president and general manager of virology at Abbott Laboratories. "Along with our partners, Abbott Laboratories is proud to support this initiative as part of our ongoing commitment to increase diagnosis and improve the lives of those impacted by HIV."

In support of National HIV Testing Day on June 27, Abbott is partnering with ASOs, community health clinics, hospitals and churches to sponsor free HIV testing in more than 100 locations in 20 cities nationwide starting June 26, with a goal of testing more than 8,000 people by the end of June.

This program specifically targets the growing number of HIV-positive people in African American and Hispanic communities who are unaware of their HIV status. Combined, African Americans and Hispanics represent nearly 70 percent of new HIV/AIDS cases. According to the CDC and the U.S. Surgeon General, AIDS is the leading cause of death for African American women between the ages of 25-34, African American men between the ages of 35-44, and a leading cause of death for Hispanics between the ages of 25-44.

"Everyone in the community must get involved in battling this national health epidemic that is plaguing our communities," said Marc Johnson, MD, medical director of the AIDS Center of Queens County and Health Chairman of Queens HIV Care Network. "Getting tested, knowing your HIV status and seeking appropriate treatment will help you and your loved ones stay healthy."

For more information and to identify HIV/AIDS testing locations, call Abbott's toll-free HIV/AIDS hotline at (866) 551-4448.

Abbott Laboratories is a major sponsor of this year's National HIV Testing Day. On June 27, 1995, the National Association of People with AIDS (NAPWA) launched National HIV Testing Day as an annual event to reach millions of those at risk with a simple message: "Take the Test, Take Control."

Abbott Laboratories has been a leader in HIV/AIDS research since the early years of the epidemic. In 1985, the company developed the first licensed test to detect HIV antibodies in the blood, and remains a leader in HIV diagnostics and therapy. Abbott retroviral and hepatitis tests are used to screen more than half of the world's donated blood supply. Recently, Abbott partnered with OraSure to launch the OraQuick Rapid HIV-1 Antibody Test -- the first rapid HIV test available in the United States -- providing test results in just 20 minutes.

Source: Abbott Laboratories