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North Central Health District

COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENTS

HOPE Center and Health Departments Offer Free HIV Testing on National HIV Testing Day

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Each year, June 27 is recognized as National HIV Testing Day. On this day, public health, healthcare providers and community organizations across the nation raise awareness about the importance of regular HIV testing and stress the significance of early HIV diagnosis. In recognition of National HIV Testing Day, North Central Health District’s (NCHD) Ryan White-funded HOPE Center will host a mini health fair June 27, 1-3 p.m., at 180 Emery Hwy., Macon, GA 31217.

“Early detection is a necessity for effective treatment of HIV,” said Dale Wrigley, Director of HOPE Center. “The sooner the illness can be identified, the sooner a person can begin receiving treatment, medication and support. National HIV Testing Day is a great opportunity for community members to get tested and learn their individual status.”

The health fair, supported by First Choice Primary Care and the Urban Coalition for HIV/AIDS Prevention Services (UCHAPS), gives everyone an opportunity to take advantage of free healthcare services, including HIV testing, blood pressure checks and health assessments. In addition to offering health services and education, the event will include entertainment, refreshments, prizes and giveaways.

“HOPE Center provides clients with comprehensive support,” said Wrigley. “We want this event to reflect that commitment by working with our community partners to provide a variety of health services at no cost to everyone that visits the health fair.”

District residents unable to visit HOPE Center’s health fair are encouraged to visit their local county health department on June 27. Each of NCHD’s 13 county health departments will be participating in National HIV Testing Day by offering free HIV testing during business hours. To find your nearest health department, visit NCHD52.org/Locations.

In addition to testing at the county health departments, NCHD’s district staff are partnering with Walgreens to provide an additional testing site at the pharmacy located at 1280 Gray Hwy., Macon, GA 31211. Free HIV testing will be available at this Walgreens location on June 27, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.

HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus, is a virus spread through the exchange of certain body fluids. HIV can be transmitted via sexual contact, sharing needles used to inject drugs or by a mother to her child during pregnancy, birth or breastfeeding. When the virus enters a person’s body, it attacks the immune system, decreasing the body’s ability to fight off diseases and infections. If HIV goes untreated, it can continue to damage the immune system and eventually lead to acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), the final stage of HIV.

While there is no cure for HIV, there are ways to reduce the risk of infection. Using condoms properly every time during sexual contact and decreasing the number of sexual partners can reduce the chance of infection. A person who avoids injecting drugs has a lower HIV risk than a person who uses needles. People who inject drugs can reduce their risk of HIV infection by not sharing needles. If a person is at high risk for HIV, he or she should talk to a healthcare provider about pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), which can help prevent the transmission of HIV. Everyone at risk of HIV infection is advised to get tested for the virus on a regular basis.

NCHD is committed to fighting the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STD) in the community. In addition to providing HIV and STD testing, each of NCHD’s 13 county health departments offers STD treatment and education. All services are completely confidential and administered by our expert team of licensed nurses and counselors. For more information about NCHD’s HIV and STD services, visit NCHD52.org/STD.

For more information on HIV, visit cdc.gov/HIV.

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