RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — It’s National HIV Testing Day, and counties throughout North Carolina are taking part.

Officials said the day encourages everyone to get tested, “know their status, and get linked to care and treatment.”

Natasha Bowen, HIV & STD Counseling testing supervisor with Wake County, shared why it matters to get tested.

Bowen said those most impacted include minorities: “who are most infected and affected with HIV & STD’s and we want to make sure that they are safe and practice safe practices when it comes to sex.”

In a Monday afternoon press release, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services emphasized the importance of screening and testing for HIV.

“At the end of 2021, an estimated 4,000 people were living with HIV in North Carolina and unaware of their HIV+ status,” the release said. “Getting tested routinely and knowing their status means people can get treatment quicker.”

The same preliminary data from the end of 2021 showed a total of 35,363 people in North Carolina were diagnosed and living with HIV.

New diagnoses have been stable the past few years after decreasing prior to the pandemic, the NCDHHS said. Data for 2021 also showed 1,392 people were newly diagnosed with HIV in North Carolina within that year.

“Discoveries in HIV science continue to revolutionize the treatment of HIV and other diseases and puts us on the verge of ending the HIV epidemic,” NCDHHS Secretary Kody Kinsley said. “Getting tested can give you the information you need to improve your health and the quality of your life. Get tested today.”

For more information on testing locations by county, click here.