Source: NJ.com Health
It takes just 20 minutes and a small finger prick to know whether you are carrying the HIV virus.
Quick, convenient and free tests are available at dozens of sites throughout the state beginning today and extending through Saturday.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates more than a million Americans are living with HIV, and almost one in six don’t know they are infected.
Its bumper-sticker motto for Free HIV Testing Day: “Take the Test, Take Control.”
NJ Buddies, the Bergen County non-profit, will be operating its mobile testing van at the Walgreens in Elmwood Park, 100 Broadway, Thursday and Friday, from 3 to 7 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The test is a simple finger prick, and you get your results onsite, said Sammy Manoharan, HIV counselor for the organization.
“If someone happens to test positive, we’ll get him into treatment right away,” he said. NJ Buddies focuses on social services for people who are HIV positive. It’s better to get tested and get into treatment early.
“If you are HIV positive, the sooner you know, the better you’re going to do in the long run,” he said. “It’s still treatable at any stage, but it’s best to treat it immediately. Most people who get diagnosed today only have to take one pill a day.”
“A lot of people don’t think they’re at risk for HIV, but they’re the ones who need to be tested,” he said. “The African-American community and the Latino community don’t think they’re at risk because they’re not gay and don’t take drugs. But anyone who has sex, or has been born in the last 30 years is at risk.”
Steven Saunders, director for HIV prevention at the N.J. Department of Health, said people are not as fearful of AIDS as they used to be, in part because they no longer see the horrible images so prevalent in the disease’s early years.
To anyone who is still reluctant to learn their HIV status, he points out “There’s really no reason to not get tested.”
“It’s free, it’s confidential, and if you’re negative, you know within 20 minutes,” he said. Those who test positive have a second test to confirm it, and get linked up with treatment and care within two business days.
New Jersey even has ways to help pay for treatment as well, Saunders said. The treatment regimen is far simpler than it used to be a generation ago, he said. “And the outcome is better.”
A list of testing sites is available on the N.J. Department of Health’s website.
In addition, Planned Parenthood will be offering the testing at five clinics this Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 12 noon:
• East Orange Health Center
560 Dr. Martin Luther King Blvd., Ste. 100
(973) 674 – 4343
• Chubb Health Center
151 Washington Street
(973) 622 – 3900
• Ironbound Health Center
70 Adams St, Suite 13
(973) 465 – 7707
• Paterson Health Center
(973) 345 – 3883
• Pompton Lakes Health Center
750 Hamburg Turnpike
(973) 839 – 2363