HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Wednesday marks World AIDS Day and Marshall Health is coordinating a free, confidential HIV testing event to commemorate the day.
Marshall Health, in collaboration with the Cabell-Huntington Health Department (CHHD), Harmony House and the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (WV DHHR), will offer the testing Wednesday from 2 to 6 p.m. at the health department at 703 7th Ave. in Huntington.
Free flu and COVID-19 vaccinations will be available for those participating in the HIV screening, a release said.
“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., pediatric hospitalist fellow at the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine.
Marshall Health held similar events in December of last year and this past spring. Marshall Health’s Dr. Andrea Lauffer, an assistant professor of internal medicine and pediatrics at Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, told MetroNews the turnout in the spring was great and many COVID shots were taken too.
Lauffer said everybody should know their HIV status.
“Certainly if you’re at higher risk for HIV, you should be tested more frequently. It is recommended that everybody between the ages of 13 and 64 should get tested for HIV at least once in their life,” Lauffer said.
The testing and vaccines are free and quick, Lauffer said with instant results from the testing. Insurance will not be billed and no appointments are necessary.
There is no age restriction for confidential HIV tests (parental consent is not required by law). Parental consent is required for those younger than 18 years of age for flu and COVID vaccines, a release said.
“If there are individuals that are concerned about privacy issues, they need not to be concerned. Everything is done confidentially,” Lauffer said.
Free TTA bus transportation to the health department is available and swag bags will be distributed while supplies last.
Marshall Health noted that HIV is a virus that can lead to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) if not treated. HIV is preventable and those at high risk may benefit from taking medication known as pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP.
HIV/AIDS cannot be cured, but it can be treated, a health release stated. Getting tested is the only way to find out if you have HIV. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one in seven people with HIV in the U.S. do not know that they are infected.