Friday, June 27, is National HIV Testing Day (NHTD), which was first observed in 1995. NHTD encourages people across the country to get tested for HIV. If you test positive, being diagnosed gives you the chance to get care and treatment. If you test negative, further education on the virus gives you a chance to stay negative.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 16 percent of people living with HIV in the United States don’t know it, which is a decline from about 20 percent in 2006. About half of the more than 50,000 new HIV cases nationwide each year are by people unaware they’re transmitting the virus.

In support of NHTD, events will take place nationwide. One of the major efforts is being sponsored by Walgreens in partnership with Greater Than AIDS, a coalition of about 200 groups led by the Black AIDS Institute (BAI). Free HIV testing will be available June 26 to 28 at 256 Walgreens in 146 cities in 33 states.

Also to coincide with NHTD, the CDC has recommended “fourth generation” HIV tests as the first step in a new testing protocol. These new tests can detect an infection by about three weeks following exposure to the virus. The “window period” with older HIV tests can be as long as three months.

To learn more about NHTD, click here. To find HIV testing sites near you, click here. To read more about the new CDC testing protocol, click here.