Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa took a rapid swab HIV test on Friday to promote the city's new campaign to get 1 million Angelenos tested for HIV/AIDS by 2011.
"If we are going to eliminate HIV in Los Angeles, we need to get past the stereotypes and stigma, and make HIV testing a part of routine healthcare for all Angelenos," Villaraigosa said.
"This initiative is about moving to make HIV testing in Los Angeles easy, accessible and free for all Angelenos."
Los Angeles County public health officials estimate that 15,000people in the city of Los Angeles do not know they are infected with HIV.
The city's HIV Testing Initiative will target minority communities that make up the bulk of new infections in Los Angeles.
Blacks represent 22 percent of the city's 21,937 AIDS cases, but just 11 percent of the population, according to the mayor's office. Latinos make up 41 percent of AIDS cases in Los Angeles.
"The growing number of Latinos affected by AIDS is alarming," said City Councilman Jose Huizar. "Latinos constitute 41 percent of the known HIV/AIDS cases in Los Angeles and Latinas constitute 44 percent -- we must do everything we can to reduce these dramatic numbers."
The initiative, which will expand testing capabilities at more than 50 hospitals and clinics, will be run by the city's AIDS Coordinator's Office and funded by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Gilead Sciences and test-maker Ora Sure.
The testing device looks like a tongue compressor and takes a saliva sample from patients, who can find out their HIV status in as little as 20 minutes.