Health Department offering free HIV testing today in conjunction with National HIV Testing Day

In conjunction with National HIV Testing Day, the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department encourages residents to get educated about the disease and to get tested.

The Health Department is offering testing today, June 27:

• 10 a.m.-noon — Lawrence Community Shelter, 3701 Franklin Park Circle

• 5-7 p.m. — Lawrence Pubic Library, 707 Vermont St.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV. The CDC also recommends that people who are at higher risk — people with more than one sexual partner, people with sexually-transmitted diseases and people who inject drugs — should get tested once a year.

In the U.S., abou 1 million people are living with HIV and one in eight of those don’t know they are infected. In Douglas County, nearly 68 percent of adults report they’ve never had an HIV test.

Getting tested is the first step to finding out if you have HIV. If you have HIV, getting medical care and taking prescribed medication regularly helps you live a longer, healthier life and also lowers the chances of passing HIV on to others. In December 2013, there were a total of 3,370 people in Kansas living with HIV/AIDS.

“Knowing your HIV status is critical. It’s important to get tested early to help prevent spread of the disease as well as to help prevent the virus from becoming full-blown AIDS,” said Director of Clinic Services Kim Ens. "Medications are available to help treat HIV, but not cure it. It’s also important to change the behaviors that put you at risk."

The Health Department, 200 Maine St., offers HIV counseling and testing on a walk-in basis in its clinic. HIV tests are also offered as part of a complete STD examination and these require an appointment. To make an appointment, call 843-0721.

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