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World AIDS Day: 12-Hour free HIV testing marathon Tuesday at Biscayne Blvd. Out of the Closet store

News release from AIDS Healthcare Foundation:

outofthecloset

To commemorate World AIDS Day 2009, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) will host a 12-hour free HIV testing marathon at its newest "Out of the Closet" Thrift Store in Miami at 2900 N. Biscayne Blvd. Tuesday, December 1st from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. In addition, the "Out of the Closet" Thrift Store in Wilton Manors (at 2097 Wilton Dr.) will also offered expanded HIV testing hours from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, December 1st. The events are part of AHF's World AIDS Day 2009 "Testing Millions" campaign which seeks to test several million people for HIV in conjunction with this year's observance of World AIDS Day.

"All are encouraged to visit the Miami or Wilton Manors 'Out of the Closet' locations on Tuesday, December 1st to take advantage of the extended testing hours, as finding out your HIV status is so important to protecting your health and the health of your partners," said James Vellequette, Regional Manager - Southern Bureau Prevention, Testing and Development for AIDS Healthcare Foundation. "With this innovative World AIDS Day testing event, we are proud to be a part of AHF's larger global 'Testing Millions' campaign which, among other things, seeks to normalize and de-stigmatize HIV testing so that people look at it as a routine part of health care. I strongly urge people with any questions about their own HIV status to join us and get tested on Tuesday."

"Out of the Closet," the world's most fabulous thrift store, is a chain of twenty stores in Northern and Southern California and in South Florida, owned and operated by AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the largest specialized provider of cutting-edge medicine and advocacy regardless of ability to pay. "Out of the Closet" Thrift Stores generate income that helps fund the medical services AHF provides. Ninety-six cents of every dollar earned goes to providing HIV/AIDS treatment, testing and prevention. In addition to regular retail operations, many store locations also offer free HIV testing and counseling on a regular basis-including the Miami and Wilton Manors locations.

Adjacent to the Miami and Wilton Manors "Out of the Closet" Thrift Stores is an AHF Pharmacy, which provides specialized expertise for people living with HIV/AIDS. AHF Pharmacy is also a full-service pharmacy, able to fill any prescription and open to everyone-whether HIV-positive or not. Revenues generated contribute to the care and treatment of AHF patients as well as supporting testing and prevention efforts worldwide. As the spokesperson for AHF Pharmacy, actor and activist Blair Underwood has said: "Any pharmacy can fill a prescription. Only one can change lives."

In Florida, AIDS Healthcare Foundation serves more than 15,000 people living with HIV/AIDS through a variety of programs, including Positive Healthcare (a statewide disease management program), Positive Healthcare Managed Care, testing and prevention programs, as well as healthcare centers in Jacksonville, Miami and Fort Lauderdale.

The 12-hour free HIV testing event in Biscayne is part of a global effort to test several million people for HIV in conjunction with this year's observation of World AIDS Day on Tuesday, December 1st. AHF is spearheading and coordinating the campaign. "Testing Millions" has been organized by AHF in coalition with hundreds of global partners from 52 countries around the world. AHF is mobilizing non-governmental organizations (NGOs), local and national governments, international relief agencies, faith-based organizations and civil society to participate. The goal: a worldwide commitment to conduct millions of free HIV tests during the extended week surrounding World AIDS Day. Last year, AHF led the successful 'One Million Tests/World AIDS Day 2008' campaign which far exceeded its worldwide goal of performing one million tests by testing 1,603,272 people and identifying 61,399 HIV positive individuals.

"The commitment and incredible energy of our partners around the globe helped make our 2008 testing campaign an unprecedented success," said Terri Ford, Senior Director of Global Policy and Advocacy for AHF and Coordinator of the 'Testing Millions' campaign, in a statement from Africa where she is taking part in AHF's own 'Testing Millions' World AIDS Day efforts. "Our goal last year was to do one million tests-a goal we far surpassed by testing over 1.6 million people, identifying 61,399 HIV positive individuals in the process. This year, working together with our growing list of partners, we plan to do more than three million tests with the hope that we exceed that goal, like we did last year."

"As we kick off our second year with this World AIDS Day HIV testing campaign, our collaborators in the U.S. and around the globe are increasingly speaking with a united voice to advocate for easily accessible HIV testing in their communities as well as for greater access to lifesaving antiretroviral treatment worldwide," said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

Additional information is available at www.testingmillions.org and www.aidshealth.org

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AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) is the largest global AIDS organization and currently provides medical care and/or services to more than 120,000 individuals in 22 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean and the Asia Pacific Region. www.aidshealth.org

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