(WCBD/WSAV) – Today is National HIV Testing Day and several local health centers are offering free HIV testing.
Who should get tested? According to the Center for Disease Control, everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 should get tested for HIV at least once. If your behavior puts you at risk after you are tested, you should think about being tested again. Some people at higher risk should get tested more often.
If your last HIV test result was negative, you should get an HIV test if you answer “yes” to any of the questions below about your risk since that test:
• Are you a man who has had sex with another man?
• Have you had sex—anal or vaginal—with an HIV-positive partner?
• Have you had more than one sex partner?
• Have you injected drugs and shared needles or works (for example, water or cotton) with others?
• Have you exchanged sex for drugs or money?
• Have you been diagnosed with, or sought treatment for, another sexually transmitted disease?
• Have you been diagnosed with or treated for hepatitis or tuberculosis (TB)?
• Have you had sex with someone who could answer “yes” to any of the above questions or someone whose sexual history you don’t know?
Sexually active gay and bisexual men may benefit from more frequent testing (for example, every 3 to 6 months).
If you’re pregnant, talk to your health care provider about getting tested for HIV and other ways to protect you and your child from getting HIV.
In Charleston during the month of June, Lowcountry AIDS Services is offering additional HIV testing events and promotions around National HIV Testing Day on June 27.
• June 27: Testing at Walgreens, 1630 Red Bank Road in Goose Creek from 1-5 p.m.
• June 27: Stop, Drop, & Pop HIV hosted by Charleston Area World AIDS Day: 2 Canal St. in downtown Charleston from 5-8:30 p.m.
• June 28: Testing at Walgreens, 1861 Remount Road in North Charleston from 3-7 p.m.
• June 29: Testing at Walgreens, 907 Folly Road on James Island from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
• June 30: SEAL Leather Testing Event at Connections Nightclub, 1377 Ashley River Road from 9 p.m. to midnight
The organization is also offering $25 gift cards for any African-American gay/bisexual man who comes in for an HIV and syphilis test. In addition, everyone who gets tested in June will be entered into a raffle to win an unlocked Samsung Galaxy S6.
Participating local health departments will also be offering free testing on Tuesday. DHEC asks that you contact your local health department to schedule your free test. For more information about HIV testing, as well as local HIV testing sites, DHEC asks that you contact their AIDS/STD Hotline at 1-800-322-AIDS (1-800-322-2437), or visit their website at http://www.scdhec.gov/HIV. You can also visit their health department finder web page at https://gis.dhec.sc.gov/healthdepartmentfinder/.
Anyone who has been sexually assaulted or has had a high-risk exposure to HIV should consider taking post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) and getting an HIV antigen test that can detect infection sooner than standard antibody testing. PEP may prevent HIV infection after possible exposure to HIV if it is started as soon as possible within 3 days after exposure to HIV.