Get Tested, Get Peace in Recognition of World AIDS Day
MICHIGAN — Twenty percent of the more than one million Americans living with HIV don’t know they have the virus that causes AIDS, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Testing and treatment can save lives and reduce the spread of HIV. In recognition of World AIDS Day on December 1, Planned Parenthood of West and Northern Michigan (PPWNM) encourages people to get tested for HIV — quickly and confidentially at any of its eight locations.
“People living with HIV can go many years without showing symptoms. It’s possible for them to unknowingly pass the virus to their partners,” said Bridget White, PPWNM vice president of medical services. “So World AIDS Day is a great reminder to get yourself tested and get the peace of mind that comes with knowing your status for sure.”
PPWNM is now offering clients the rapid HIV test, manufactured by Alere™ and sold under the name Clearview®. Testing is confidential, and results are available in about 20 minutes. The service costs less than $50 at PPWNM Health Centers and many clients qualify for reduced fees or services for a donation. The rapid HIV test can be performed in conjunction with another visit, such as annual exam or other sexually transmitted infection testing.
Early HIV diagnosis is critical, so people who are infected can fully benefit from available life-saving treatments. Currently, almost 40 percent of people with HIV are not diagnosed until they already have developed AIDS. That can be up to 10 years after they first became infected with HIV. Finding out whether you are infected with HIV is the first step to improving your health, and the health of your partners and your family.
“We want testing to become normal, something we just naturally do without worry of stigma,” said White. “Early detection is key to improving quality of life and reducing the risk of spreading infection to others.”
PPWNM also offers three free condoms a day to anyone who stops in and asks, and sells additional condoms for just $0.25 a piece in an effort to promote safer sex and the potential spread of the HIV virus. Latex condoms, when used consistently and correctly, are highly effective in preventing the sexual transmission of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, according to the CDC.
Planned Parenthood of West and Northern Michigan provides reproductive health care and sexuality education services with locations in eight Michigan cities. Learn more at www.ppwnm.org.