Health Department of Northwest Michigan
serving Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego Counties
Visit us at www.nwhealth.org
June 26 is National HIV Testing Day
Free, anonymous, confidential HIV testing available at Health Department
(June 24, 2009) In an effort to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, public health officials encourage everyone to know their HIV status. For those who have not had an HIV test, the local health department is holding an HIV Counseling & Testing Clinic in conjunction with National HIV Testing Day on Friday, June 26 at the Petoskey/Harbor Springs office. Testing is painless; a sample is collected with a swab in the mouth. There is no charge for HIV testing. Appointments for the anonymous, confidential HIV testing are required and can be made by calling 800-432-4121.
HIV is the virus that causes AIDS and it is hitting Americans hard. More than 40,000 are infected with HIV each year. About a quarter of them do not know they are infected.
"The only way to know if you are infected with HIV is to be tested," said Bert Notestine, who coordinates HIV Testing & Counseling for the Health Department of Northwest Michigan. "If you are HIV-positive, you must take steps to prevent passing your HIV infection to another person."
Although there is no cure for HIV, new drugs are available that help HIV-positive people stay healthy and decrease the amount of HIV virus in their bodies.
The National HIV Testing Mobilization Campaign makes these recommendations to control HIV:
- Be safe. The best way to prevent HIV is to abstain from having sex. If you do have sex, use a new latex condom every time. Do not share needles or syringes.
- Talk about it. Talk about sex and HIV with your partners. Find out when they were last tested for HIV and what their status was. Be clear you will be having safer sex.
- Talk to your doctor. If you are sexually active, you should get tested for HIV at least once. Do not assume your doctor will ask you to be tested for HIV.
- Spread the word. Thousands of Americans are getting HIV every year. Set an example by getting tested and spreading the word that others should do the same.
"Everyone has the power to help stop the spread of HIV," said Notestine.
The Health Department of Northwest Michigan is mandated by the Michigan Public Health Code to promote wellness, prevent disease, provide quality healthcare, address health problems of vulnerable populations, and protect the environment for the residents and visitors of Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego counties. For additional information about HIV Counseling & Testing, call Notestine at 231-347-6014.