Free HIV tests available

Published 10:22 pm Thursday, December 1, 2016

In recognition of Thursday’s World AIDS Day, local organizations and volunteers will provide free HIV testing and awareness this Sunday.

This is the first such event for the groups, said Kay Caldwell, an instructor with Vital Healthcare Training. Black Nurses Rock DMV is also helping to put on the event, which will take place from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday at Russell Memorial Library, 2808 Taylor Road, Chesapeake. It is free and open to the public.

“Knowing your status allows you to protect yourself and protect other people,” Caldwell said. Awareness and education also are important, especially for young people who may not be aware of the potential consequences of their actions.

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HIV — or human immunodeficiency virus — is spread through contact with certain bodily fluids of an HIV-positive person. In the United States, the most common methods of transmission are unsafe sex and sharing needles or syringes with someone who is HIV-positive. If left untreated, infection with HIV leads to AIDS — acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.

In 2015, more than 1.2 million people in the U.S. were living with HIV, and one out of eight of them didn’t know it, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

More than 39,500 people were diagnosed with the infection nationwide. However, from 2005 to 2014, the number of HIV diagnoses fell by 19 percent.

Last year, 18,303 people were diagnosed with AIDS. Since the epidemic began in the early 1980s, more than 1.2 million have been diagnosed with the disease.

The results of the HIV tests will be mailed within 24 to 72 hours of the event, Caldwell said. Clinical Reference Laboratory of Kansas will test the samples.

Height and weight checks as well as blood pressure checks will also be available at the event to help alert people to other health problems of which they may be unaware.

Caldwell said volunteers who can draw blood, check blood pressure and run the height and weight stations are needed, as well as general set-up and clean-up volunteers.

Caldwell also is seeking sponsors to help defray the cost of the tests.

“Each dollar will help people get tested and know their status,” she said.

Contact Caldwell at 971-4182 or for more information.