Wednesday, December 1, 2010

World AIDS Day: We're still not getting tested enough

Posted By on Wed, Dec 1, 2010 at 2:12 PM

Dec. 1 is usually the day we start thinking about buying more Christmas gifts. But the red ribbons you're seeing today don't have anything to do with the holiday of giving. It's World AIDS Day. If you haven't been tested in 2010, other than feeling ashamed of yourself for not knowing your status, you should have no problem getting a test today.

Though there is more awareness about HIV and AIDS, people still aren't getting tested.

Guidelines making AIDS tests part of routine care have helped get more Americans tested, but more than half of adults still have no idea if they are infected, government researchers reported on Tuesday.

Nearly 83 million Americans have been tested for the AIDS virus, 11.4 million of them since the guidelines were issued in 2006, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

But 200,000 Americans are infected with the virus and do not know it, CDC director Dr. Thomas Frieden said.

"The numbers show that progress is possible," Frieden told a news conference.

"They also show that progress is needed," he added. "To see a steady improvement in just a two or three year period, I think, is quite encouraging. It's progress but it's not success."

The CDC estimates that 1.1 million Americans are infected with the human immunodeficiency virus that causes AIDS.

Testing for HIV has evolved; these days, you can get a rapid test — which will give your results before you even get out of the chair. There is a hint of fear every time you go and take an HIV Test. But this disease is preventable, and you owe it to yourself to know your status.

Here's where you can go locally:

In Mecklenburg County, there are eight free clinics where you can go and get tested, such as the Charlotte Community Health Clinic (3040 A Eastway Drive, 704-316-6561), the Matthews Free Medical Clinic (113 N. Ames St., Matthews, 704-841-8882) and the Charlotte Volunteers in Medicine Free Clinic (1315 Beatties Ford Road, 704-350-1300), among others.

The medical community isn't the only group trying to raise AIDS Awareness and encourage HIV testing. Carolinas Care Partnership (www.carolinascare.org) will offer free HIV and syphilis testing on World AIDS Day, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., at 7510 E. Independence Blvd., Ste. 105.

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