ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The New York State Department of Health has highlighted its HIV home test giveaway in honor of Pride Month. The Department of Health AIDS Institute has launched its seventh HIV home tests giveaway outside of New York City, which runs statewide from May 2 through June 19. 

Officials are highlighting the importance of HIV home testing as a tool to empower individuals to take control of their sexual health. HIV home testing kits make access to testing easier and help mitigate the spread of HIV they said.

An HIV home test kit allows individuals to know their HIV status quickly, accurately, and conveniently. Testing and identifying people with HIV who remain undiagnosed and linking them to support healthcare services is the first point in the State’s Plan to End the Epidemic.

According to officials, a current estimate indicates that over 112,000 New Yorkers are living with HIV, and about 7,000 of those individuals do not know their HIV status. Since the beginning of the pilot project, 31% of program participants have reported that they had never been tested for HIV.

New York State’s first HIV Home Test Giveaway began in 2016 as a pilot project to reach those who identify as men who have sex with men. Public health experts have now expanded access to prioritize the broader LGBTQ+ community to include transgender or genderqueer/gender non-conforming people who have sex with men, in addition to heterosexual, bisexual cisgender Black women, as well as men who have sex with men. 

This fall, the Department is planning another HIV Home Test Giveaway which will further be expanded to include cisgender Latinas as part of the priority populations. To receive a free HIV home test, individuals should complete an eligibility survey. If eligible, they are emailed a promotional code that is redeemable at OraSure Technologies online.

Individuals can also receive the eligibility survey by texting the word ‘test’ to 40457 at any time throughout the year. Additional information and resources about HIV testing are also available to all New Yorkers on the Department of Health webpage.