North Central Health District

COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENTS

Houston County Health Department Providing Free HIV Testing on World AIDS Day

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Drive-Thru Testing Available Tuesday, Dec. 1

On Dec. 1, World AIDS Day, Houston County Health Department is providing free drive-thru HIV testing to anyone who wants to know their status. Testing will be available at the health department at 98 Cohen Walker Dr. from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

2020 marks the 32nd anniversary of World AIDS Day, a global health observation that offers an opportunity for people to show support for those living with HIV/AIDS and to remember those who fought against the disease. The yearly day of recognition is important as it reminds the community, healthcare providers and organizations that there is still a need to increase awareness, combat stigma and improve education to continue fighting against HIV and AIDS.

“Many people living with HIV never realize they have it until they get tested,” said Houston County Nurse Manager Chris Sikes. “Around one in seven people living with HIV don’t know they are positive. The earlier someone knows they are living with HIV, the quicker they can get started with treatment.”

In addition to HIV testing, staff will provide information about HIV and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), which can help prevent the transmission of HIV. The first 20 people to get tested will also receive a $20 gift card. Everyone that gets tested at the event will be entered into a drawing to receive a $100 gift card.

“Part of fighting the spread of HIV is education,” said Sikes. “We want everyone to be able to get the information they need.”

Though there is no cure for HIV, a person can reduce the risk of transmission in a number of ways. Using condoms properly every time during sexual contact and reducing the number of sex partners can reduce the chance of infection. A person who avoids injecting drugs has a lower risk than a person who does. People who inject drugs can reduce the risk of HIV infection by not sharing needles. If a person is at very high risk, he or she should talk to their healthcare provider about PrEP. Everyone at risk of HIV infection is advised to get tested regularly. Those with a higher risk should get tested more often.

Houston County Health Department and North Central Health District (NCHD) work to fight the spread of HIV throughout the community by offering a variety of services. The county health department provides testing for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) along with tools and education for reducing an individual’s risk of infection. In addition, NCHD’s Ryan White-funded HOPE Center helps those living with HIV/AIDS through peer counseling, medical services and referrals to third-party services for additional client needs.

To learn more about NCHD’s HIV testing, care and treatment services, please call your local health department or visit NCHD52.org/HIV.

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