The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has awarded $35 million in funding to state and local health departments in order to support HIV testing and increase early detection of the virus in disproportionately affected populations, especially African-American communities.

Twenty-three states and major metropolitan areas will receive the grants, which will range from $690,000 to $5.4 million per state. The CDC hopes to identify currently undiagnosed HIV-positive African Americans. African Americans currently comprise 13 percent of the U.S. population but account for more than half of all Americans living with HIV.

“This program seeks to test more than 1 million people with the primary goal of increasing early HIV diagnosis among African Americans,” said Kevin Fenton, MD, director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention. “HIV testing provides a critical pathway to prevention and treatment services to prolong the lives of those infected and help stop the spread of HIV in the hardest-hit communities across the United States.”

Fenton says that the CDC estimates that the extra funds could help to identify nearly 20,000 people who are living with HIV but don’t know it, which would allow them to access health care and take steps to avoid infecting others.