Tomorrow is World Aids Day and the Kent County Health department is still offering free walk-in testing for HIV. More than a million people in the U.S. are living with HIV according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The testing takes place at the Main Clinic on Fuller and is confidential.
“HIV doesn’t really have any telling symptoms when you have it. And so, one of the only ways to know is to get tested. The CDC also says that one in seven people who have HIV don’t know they have it and so that’s another incentive, to get tested, so that you know your status.”
Knowing your status is important, says April Hight. She’s the Kent County Health Department’s, personal health services program supervisor. She says the Health Department is recognizing World Aids Day tomorrow. They’ve been offering free HIV testing all week and it wraps up tomorrow.
“Anybody can come in and get tested. It’s a simple finger prick, it takes about 20 minutes and you’ll know the results right on the spot.”
Hight says the CDC recommends every person get testing at least once in their lifetime for HIV. If you’re at higher risk, they recommend testing more than once.
“Someone who’s higher risk would be someone with multiple sex partners, someone who shares needles and they should get tested more than once a year.”
Hight says things have changed as it relates to treatment of HIV. With proper medical care and diagnosis, people can live long healthy, lives.
“The medications are great, especially if started early, people aren’t going into the AIDS stage. People are just staying with the HIV infection and they can live a normal, healthy life now. But that’s why it’s so important to test and catch it early and you’re getting care. “
Hight also says that they offer help for those who are currently living with HIV.
“It’s still quite a few people who have been diagnosed with HIV who’ve been diagnosed and aren’t getting care… we can help you get back into care. You don’t have to worry about not paying for meds.”
The Kent County Health Department is open for testing from 8 am until 5 pm on Friday. And again, if you need help or have questions, you can the health department at 616 632-7172.