HIV Testing Day Extended Hours

National HIV Testing Day is an annual observance to promote HIV testing to reduce stigma surrounding HIV testing and to persuade individuals to think about behaviors that may put them at risk for HIV. This year’s obsrvance is on Sunday, June 27. In Great Falls, the Cascade City-County Health Department provide3s HIV testing for anyone wanting to get tested. Free and anonymous testing is available on a walk-in basis Monday-Friday 8 am to 12 pm and 1pm to 5pm. In honor of National HIV Testing Day, hours will be extended Monday, June 28 – Wednesday, June 30 from 8am to 6pm.

In 2009, Montana passed a law intended to make HIV testing more accessible to people and easier for health care providers to offer. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) encourages HIV testing of adults, adolescents and pregnant women in health care settings. Individuals who know their HIV status can reduce risk of further transmission to partners. Treatment can slow the progression of the disesase. Routine testing is particularly important for pregnant women who can take advantage of medication to protect their baby. “The rapid test takes only 20 minutes in the office and it is strictly confidential; this is the first step in preventing HIV – getting tested and knowing your status,” says Trisha Garnder, CCHD HIV Educator.

Throughout the nation and in Montana, at least one in five persons living with HIV does not know they are HIV-infected. Forty percent of people with HIV are not diagnosed until they have already developed AIDS, and that can be up to 10 years after they first became infected with the virus. Since HIV does not immediately produce symptoms of illness, it may take years to progress to life-threatening stages, but the disease can be passed on to others, whether or not a person has symptoms. Early HIV diagnosis is critical, so people who areinfected can fully benefit from available life-saving treatments and healthcare.

Individuals interested in finding a location for testing can text their zip code to: knowit (566948) or can go to www.hivtest.org and enter their zip code. Individuals looking for more information on CCHD’s HIV Testing can visit http://www.cchdmt.org/index.php?p=prevention&n=hiv¬†or call Trish Gardner at 791-9279.