North Central Health District

COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENTS

Public health providing free HIV testing on National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

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North Central Health District Partnering with Walgreens on Feb. 7

On Feb. 7, National Black HIV/AIDS Day, North Central Health District (NCHD) will team up with Walgreens, located at 1280 Gray Hwy. in Macon, to provide free HIV testing to anyone who wants to know their status.

Started in 1999, National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is recognized by the healthcare community each year to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS prevention, care and treatment among African Americans, a community disproportionally affected by the virus. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while only 13% or the country’s population, African Americans made up 43% of all HIV diagnoses in the United States in 2017. That year, nearly 17,000 African Americans received new HIV diagnoses. Here in Georgia, the Department of Public Health recorded 1,908 new diagnoses of HIV among African American residents, making up 71% of the 2,698 diagnoses in 2017.

However, CDC has noted that HIV diagnoses have declined in recent years. Between 2010 and 2016, diagnoses in black heterosexual men have gone down by 26% and in black women by 25%. In African American gay and bisexual men between the ages of 13 and 24, diagnoses decreased 3%. These decreases have been aided by HIV prevention efforts across the country.

“Part of fighting the spread of HIV is fighting against the stigma surrounding it,” said NCHD Health Educator Bobby Hall. “We’re working to raise awareness in our community by openly discussing HIV in a judgment-free way. We want everyone to be able to get the information and care they need to prevent HIV.”

NCHD will be providing testing at the Walgreens at 1280 Gray Hwy. Friday, Feb. 7, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. NCHD also encourages everyone to visit their local health department for HIV testing, information and more.

“Many people living with HIV never realize they have it until they get tested,” said Hall. “Getting tested is the first step for effective HIV care. The sooner someone knows they are living with HIV, the sooner they can begin treatment.”

NCHD works to fight the spread of HIV throughout the community by offering a variety of services. County health departments provide 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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