According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 8 Americans have HIV and don’t know it. One local college wants to change that by raising awareness about HIV in the CSRA through a health fair that offers free HIV testing.
The purpose of National HIV Testing Day is for people to learn about this virus, to encourage them to get tested, and to help people learn how to take care of themselves and their partners.
For two years Paine College has been working with the Department of Public Health and Georgia Regents Medical Center to educate the community about Human Immunodeficiency Virus by offering free HIV testing.
“Many individuals are knocking down the door to know their status. So we try to make an environment where it’s, okay it’s cool. It’s socially acceptable for you to know your status,” Ken Bonds Junior, event organizer, said.
According the CDC, in the United States there are 1.2 million people currently living with HIV and that number continues to grow every single year. By simply getting tested nearly 90 percent of new cases could be prevented.
“So they swab your gums and they put in a solution which reads it and you get your results in about 20 minutes,” Bonds told News Channel 6.
Bonds says for 11 years this health fair has provided people with the tools they need to live a physically and mentally healthy life.
“When it all boils down to it everyone has the right to choose how they want to live. So what we do is try to provide education because everyone also has the right to be educated,” Bonds said.
Health care professionals were also at the event to answer questions and provide information about treatment options.
“It’s important for everybody to know their status. It’s a way to stay healthy. Most people think HIV is a death sentence and it’s not anymore,” shared Claire Harris, who got tested at today’s event.
For testing, counseling, or treatment visit gettested.cdc.gov.