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AIDS/HIV Services Group to Hold Free HIV Testing Event - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

AIDS/HIV Services Group to Hold Free HIV Testing Event

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The Charlottesville AIDS/HIV Services Group, or ASG, is getting ready to host one of its largest initiatives ever. It will be all hands on deck at the Jefferson School this Thursday, as ASG employees will be there all day offering free and confidential HIV  tests.

There certainly is a tremendous benefit in knowing your HIV status, but the reality for many people getting tested can be intimidating.

ASG is hoping this latest initiative will change that.

"I think there is definitely this stigma associated with getting an HIV test," said Jason Elliot, ASG recruitment specialist.

Elliot  understands that for many clients just walking through the door to get tested can come with just as much anxiety as the actual results of the test. 

"And if you're going to get your HIV test, then there must be a reason why you're going to get your HIV test, which isn't always the case. A lot of times people just want to be responsible and know their status," said Elliot. 

ASG says part of its plan to help erase the stigma and increase visibility. 

"And that's exactly what we're doing on Thursday. We're leaving the office and going out into the middle of the community and we're saying 'We're here and there's nothing to be ashamed of,'" said Elliot.

Instead of holding the testing at its 10th Street location, the staff will be at the Jefferson School. Testing will have the same confidential one-on-one interaction, but ASG says the larger familiar space also gives the sense that there is nothing to hide.

But ASG is hoping that another way people will become comfortable is understanding how the test has changed. At one time you had to wait two weeks for results.

"It's nerve-racking and it's scary, you know a lot can happen in two weeks," said Elliot. 

Even months ago, the rapid tests were under development. Now, the oral swab or finger prick HIV tests give results in just 20 minutes.

ASG says expectations are high, but it will be satisfied if even a just a few people show up.

"Whether it's two people that come out or 202 people, we're ready and we're excited for it," said Elliot.

You can get tested for both HIV and Hepatitis C on Thursday. ASG's National Testing Day event runs from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Thursday at the Jefferson School.

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