ASG & Hospitals Provide Free Tests for National HIV Testing Day
Wednesday is National HIV Testing Day, and the AIDS-HIV Services Group (ASG) is teaming up with hospitals to provide free testing.
The event took place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at CitySpace in downtown Charlottesville. Trained counselors were on hand to perform swab tests, which provide results in about 20 minutes.
"If you just go ahead and seek help then you'll know. Then you can come to the reality of it and you can just go ahead and seek help," said Marcus Williams who was diagnosed with HIV in 2010. "HIV is a part of me, yes it is, but I've come to the part where I'm undetectable and I thank God that I'm still here today to tell somebody and help somebody because we all need someone to lift us up."
ASG said 4,500 Virginians have HIV and don't even know it, which is why they hope events like the one Wednesday will encourage more people to at least get tested.
"It's very important to know your status. It doesn't matter if you think you're at risk or not. We all are," said Chris Barnett, a testing coordinator for ASG.
Barnett went on to say that there's help available for people who test positive, and with treatment, they can continue to live successful lives.
"An HIV diagnosis does not mean a death wish at all. There are many medications available, as long as a person diagnosed with HIV goes to see their doctor," he said.
In fact, organizers of Wednesday's free testing event say people who receive care are less likely to pass the virus on. That means there's less risk for everyone, when people get tested.
Lisa Chapman took a free HIV test at CitySpace on Wednesday. "This is something I do every year, just to make sure I'm safe," she said.
Each year about 100 people come to ASG's free testing on National HIV Testing Day. They said that although it can be scary, they encourage people to get tested, so if necessary, they can get the help they need.
Click here for information on how you can get a free test.
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