Kent County Health Department offers free HIV tests
Today the nation recognizes the 35th World AIDS Day, a day to remember those who have passed from the disease, while continuing to raise awareness of the ongoing pandemic.
Since the beginning of the AIDS epidemic, almost 700,000 people in the U.S. have died from the virus, but thanks to improved treatments and infection prevention, that number has drastically declined. Still, there is no known cure for the disease.
In recognition of the day, the Kent County Health Department offered free walk-in testing today at their main clinic. All testing was done by certified counselors who could answer questions as well as connect residents with other needed services. April Hight with the department says here in Kent County, infection numbers have remained low but steady over the years.
“It’s actually stayed pretty stable, it’s actually gone up a few years to be above 40 new cases a year but I know as a nation they’re seeing a trend downward which is great.”
The Center for Disease Control estimates that 20% of people who are living with HIV don’t know they’re infected, which raises the risk for passing it on to others.
Currently, there are treatments available for people living with HIV that help suppress the virus, but health officials say that early diagnosis such as the free tests that were offered today is important to helping slow the spread. Officials say HIV can often go undiagnosed because symptoms aren’t always obvious.
“Definitely anyone who’s never been tested for HIV should be tested should have it done at least once in their life”
World AIDS Day was started in 1988 and has been represented worldwide by the wearing of a red ribbon.