Each year in the United States, National HIV Testing Day is observed on June 27. Testing is available in various locations and by various methods.
This year, Northwest Health Services’ HIV Prevention Team held a free testing event at our Family Medicine Associates location. 22 individuals sought testing that day. This may seem like a small number. Yet considering the stigma associated with HIV, having this many individuals coming forward to be tested is a good sign!
The theme for this year’s National HIV Testing Day was, “Take the Test & Take the Next Step.” Sounds good, right? But what is the next step? For individuals who are HIV-negative (non-reactive on rapid tests), PrEP may be the appropriate next step. PrEP is pre-exposure prophylaxis which is a medication taken to PREVENT the transmission of the HIV virus. PrEP can be prescribed by any licensed medical provider. There are patient assistance programs available to assist in covering the cost of PrEP medication.
The next step for an individual who has a “reactive” test result—is to have a full blood draw for more comprehensive testing. If that result is confirmed positive, it is of the utmost importance for the individual to be scheduled with a specially trained provider and get started on the appropriate medication. With proper medical care, HIV is quite manageable. People living with HIV can live long, healthy lives!
We encourage everyone to be tested for HIV. It is a simple finger stick and about a 20-minute wait time for your results. Northwest Health Services offers rapid tests free of charge at all of our medical clinics. In the United States, 1 in 7 individuals living with HIV does not know they are HIV Positive—thus the importance of HIV testing!
Northwest Health Services has several providers prescribing PrEP medications and two specially trained/credentialed HIV care providers on staff. We also have a full-time HIV Prevention Specialist/Case Manager available to answer questions, schedule appointments and more. Please contact Janet Miller at 816-901-1034. For more information about HIV testing, treatment and prevention, please visit nwhealth-service.org/hiv/.