HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Tuesday is World AIDS Day and Marshall Health is coordinating free HIV testing, the virus that causes AIDS.
Marshall Health, in collaboration with the Cabell-Huntington Health Department and the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) is offering the testing which is free and confidential from 2 to 6 p.m. Tuesday at the health department at 703 7th Ave. in Huntington.
“Increased testing, education and resources for those with positive tests and community prevention are vital to decreasing the spread of HIV,” said Jessica Ford, D.O., event organizer and pediatric hospitalist fellow at Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine in a release.
“We hope many will join us to recognize World AIDS day, unite in the fight against HIV and AIDS and get tested.”
Ford told MetroNews that Cabell County leads West Virginia in HIV cases with 17 in 2018, 69 in 2019 and 34 cases so far in 2020. She added that an estimated 39,303 people in the United States were diagnosed last year and about 1 in 7 of people with HIV do not know they are infected. In the last three years, an estimated 120 adults and adolescents were diagnosed with HIV in West Virginia, according to the DHHR.
According to Marshall Health, HIV is preventable and those at high risk may benefit from taking medication referred to as PrEP. HIV and AIDS cannot be cured, but it can be treated. Getting tested is the only way to find out if you have HIV, Ford said.
The event is targeting high school and college-age individuals but no one will be turned away. Ford said it was important to emphasize it being confidential while targeting the younger crowd.
“It will not be billed. You will not be charged anything so it will be free,” she said.
“We didn’t want people, especially adolescence, children younger than 18 to be concerned about their parents coming. It’s completely confidential.”