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|Atlanta hosts events for National HIV Testing Day|
|by Ryan Watkins|
|June 22, 2012 00:00|
Many of Atlanta’s HIV/AIDS organizations will host free HIV screenings and offer other tests Wednesday, June 27, to mark National HIV Testing Day.
First held in 1995, National HIV Testing Day is organized by the National Association of People with AIDS with the goal of increasing HIV/AIDS awareness and test rates across the country. This is the campaign’s 19th year, and organizers hope that continued advocacy and awareness campaigns can increase testing on the local level by 10 percent across the board.
Frank Oldham, the president of the NAPWA, said National HIV Testing Day is important because it was the first AIDS awareness day.
“It was founded to ensure that people with HIV and AIDS knew their status,” Oldham said.
Despite the increase in treatment options since the height of the AIDS epidemic, Oldham said gay men are still disproportionately affected by the disease because of homophobia — or as Oldham called it, “homohatred.”
“Gay men can’t fight all of society at once,” Oldham said. “We need allies.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, Georgia has one of the highest rates of HIV infections in the country. In 2009, nearly 1,400 state residents were diagnosed with HIV, while some 40,000 individuals in the state are currently living with the disease. Some 50 percent of new infections affect men who have sex with men, despite being a small fraction of the overall state’s population.
AID Atlanta, one of the city’s largest providers of HIV/AIDS services, will offer free testing June 24 outside of Midtown’s Piedmont Park (12th Street entrance) from 4:30-7:30 p.m. AID Atlanta will also set up shop outside of Underground Atlanta on June 27 from 11-6:30 p.m. and offer free testing at its Atlanta headquarters the same day.
Standing To Achieve New Direction (STAND), a community-based nonprofit that focuses on re-entry services for men, HIV prevention and intervention and substance abuse counseling, will host several local organizations for a community health fair on National HIV Testing Day at its Decatur offices.
STAND’s Terry Barlow said the health fair will give participants a chance to have a number of screenings in addition to HIV tests.
“We’re going to provide free HIV testing and free STD screenings,” Barlow said. “We’re going to provide blood pressure, blood glucose and cholesterol screenings as well as body mass index testing.
“There will be a number of other agencies displaying their wares and promoting their services including CHRIS Kids, Future Foundations and OmniTech,” Barlow continued.
Pharmacy chain Walgreen’s will offer free testing in some 46 locations across the country on National HIV Testing Day, including three Atlanta locations: 2320 N. Druid Hills, Atlanta, Ga. 30329; 2711 Metropolitan Parkway, Atlanta, Ga. 30315; and 1874 Piedmont Ave., Atlanta, Ga. 30324. These locations will partner with STAND, who will administer the tests, Barlow said.
Positive Impact will offer drawings for people who are tested on National HIV Testing Day for two giveaways, a $25 gift card and another prize worth $200, according to an organization spokesperson. Previous giveaways have included Amazon Kindle e-Readers and televisions.
AID Gwinnett will offer four days of free HIV and STD testing at its Duluth offices from Monday, June 25, through Thursday, June 28.
For more information on testing sites around the state, please visit www.hivtest.org.
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