In June, Northwest Health Services hosted a free HIV screening event at our Downtown Health Center. This event was well attended—possibly because of the free food—who doesn’t like free food, right? However, there were numerous individuals seeking the free HIV Screenings. Definitely, more folks than we anticipated—which was actually a good thing and an indication for more screening events.
Many individuals mistakenly assume they are not at risk of having HIV. The reality is, that one in seven persons living with HIV in the United States—does not know he or she is HIV positive. Thus, the importance of screening.
Sometimes individuals tell us, “I’m afraid to find out my status.” The fact is there is nothing to fear. If a person has a non-reactive screening, then it is highly unlikely the person has acquired the HIV virus. A rapid screening is simple—it requires only a drop of blood via a finger stick and results are received in 15 minutes!!!
In some cases, it is recommended the individual be re-screened in 3 months. If an individual’s result is “non-reactive”, it is a good time for a discussion about PrEP. PrEP is Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis which is one pill taken once a day to prevent the transmission of the HIV virus even through sexual contact. When taken as prescribed, PrEP is approximately 97% effective in HIV prevention. Northwest Health Services Providers offer medical guidance to patients interested in PrEP medication. Our Prevention Specialist enrolls uninsured or underinsured patients in assistance programs to assist with the cost of PrEP medication.
If an individual has a “reactive” HIV screening, then a follow-up lab draw is necessary. This larger sample is forwarded to another lab for more extensive testing. This advanced testing is necessary before an actual diagnosis of HIV can be made. If the confirmatory testing result is HIV Positive—then it is imperative to schedule an appointment with a specially trained medical provider who can prescribe the proper medication.
Northwest Health Services has specially trained Providers to deliver medical care to patients who are HIV positive. Our staff will also assist HIV positive patients with assistance programs for their HIV medications.
Regardless of HIV status, we are here to assist patients to schedule appointments with providers, lab work, medications, etc.
Knowledge is powerful! Know your Status!
If you or someone you know are interested in a free HIV screening, please feel free to contact Janet Miller @ 816-901-1034 to get scheduled!