National HIV Testing Day & Related June Events
Published: June 11, 2018
GET TO KNOW YOUR HEALTH!
On June 27, in honor of National HIV Testing Day, Alabama’s Medical Advocacy & Outreach (MAO) joins organizations across the nation to increase activities that foster people of all ages to get tested for HIV; to learn the difference between popular myths and the facts about HIV transmission; and to become agents for removing the stigma that continues to prevent many from receiving life-saving care. HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is the virus that leads to AIDS. No one is immune to HIV regardless of age, activity, race, gender, sexual orientation, faith, or political beliefs. Medical science has offered a list of treatment options over the last 30+ years; however, you must first know you are infected and start treatment to benefit from the boundless medical advancements. Many people with HIV don’t have any symptoms. In the United States, 1 in 7 people living with HIV don’t know they have it. Southern states bear the greatest burden of HIV, accounting for nearly 50% of all new infections in the United States. Even if you don’t feel sick, getting early treatment for HIV is important. Early treatment can help you live a longer, healthier life. Treatment can also make it less likely that you will pass HIV on to other people. Furthermore, if your test indicates you have not been exposed to HIV, there are now options, including PrEP, to help you keep it that way.
MAO offers FREE walk-in HIV testing at its full service clinic sites in Montgomery and Dothan during regular office hours, and, currently by appointment, at its new location in Atmore. To further increase convenience for National HIV Testing Day on June 27, 2018, MAO has joined forces with Greater Than AIDS and Walgreens to support testing at multiple Walgreens locations in South Alabama. Please consider visiting any of the following locations on June 27th for your Free HIV test. Knowing is the first step toward a longer, healthier life. All locations offer the latest rapid result tests.
Medical Advocacy & Outreach (MAO) Locations (8:30 a.m. to Noon and 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.):
- Montgomery, Alabama – 2900 McGehee Road, Montgomery, Alabama 36111
- Dothan, Alabama – 1865 Honeysuckle Road, Ste. 2, Dothan, Alabama 36305
- Atmore, Alabama – 1321 South Main Street, Ste. 2, Atmore, Alabama 36502 (New location! Call (251) 321-0818 for an appointment.)
Walgreens Locations (
3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Revised times 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.)
- Walgreens Store #6843 located at 2281 E South Blvd. Montgomery, AL 36116
- Walgreens Store #10761 located at 1504 S Main St. Atmore, AL 36502
- Walgreens Store #13111 located at 3574 Montgomery Hwy. Dothan, AL 36303
If the times offered on June 27th do not fit with your schedule, call MAO or your County Health Department for other days and times, or join the MAO community education and risk reduction teams at either of the following testing and healthy living events:
McGehee Block Party, Saturday, June 23, 2018, 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., FREE Admission
2900 McGehee Road, Montgomery, Alabama 36111
Get ready for a different kind of city block party. Bring the entire family for fun, music, games, and prizes, paired with healthy living exhibitors and wellness services. FREE health screenings, including HIV, Hepatitis C, and substance abuse. Learn about PrEP and other strategies available for healthy living. Parent-friendly activities for kids, including face painting. Live remote broadcast by Yo! 100.5 Classic Hip Hop Radio. Enjoy the day and casually learn about the epidemics we can end. Event questions or want to exhibit? Call (334) 280-3349, ext. 5101, 2056, or 2057.
Get Tested, Own Your Health Event, Thursday, June 28, 2018, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., FREE Admission
1865 Honeysuckle Road, Ste. 2, Dothan, Alabama 36305
Who said getting tested for HIV had to be boring or inconvenient? This special day-long testing event works for you. Couldn’t make it on the 27th? No problem. Visit MAO in Dothan. Sit for a spell, enjoy come local food, win a prize or two, and get tested. Rapid results tests of course. Why stop with HIV? Hepatitis C and substance abuse screening also available for FREE. Have questions or want to donate to support the event? Call (334) 836-0384.
ABOUT NATIONAL HIV TESTING DAY
National HIV Testing Day was created in 1995 by the former National Association of People with AIDS. Many of NAPWA’s pioneering efforts continue to inspire national and global efforts by private organizations and government agencies to educate the human race about HIV; to advance medical science in the hope of finding a cure; and to eliminate barriers to treatment and life-sustaining care. The only way to know if you have HIV is to get tested.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in the United States:
- An estimated 1.1 million people in the United States were living with HIV at the end of 2015, the most recent year for which this information is available. Of those people, about 15%, or 1 in 7, did not know they were infected.
- Young people aged 13-24 are especially affected by HIV. In 2015, they comprised 16% of the US population but accounted for 22% of all new HIV diagnoses.
- People aged 50 and over account for an estimated 45% of Americans living with diagnosed HIV. They have the same HIV risk factors as younger people, but may be less aware of their HIV risk factors. Furthermore, older Americans are more likely to receive a diagnosis of HIV infection later in the course of their disease.
Even with advancements in treatment and testing, the fact remains, many still do not get tested or adhere to routine care. Illnesses like HIV, Hepatitis C and diabetes do NOT discriminate based on age, sex, sexual orientation, religion or location. The volume of need and the urgency of treatment further increases when the facts above are combined with the commonality of multiple diagnoses.
According to the CDC, of all the people living with HIV in the U.S., an estimated 25 percent are co-infected with Hepatitis C virus (HCV), and about 10 percent are co-infected with Hepatitis B virus (HBV). Furthermore, the risk of Type 2 Diabetes in people living with HIV is also greater in those who are co-infected with Hepatitis C. It is with these facts in mind that MAO also actively encourages everyone to not only be tested for HIV, but for Hepatitis C as well.
Stigma is the real killer. Many do not get tested, or get tested long after their health has started to deteriorate because of fears stemming from stigma. With testing and strict adherence to treatment, Hepatitis C can be cured, and, although there remains no cure for HIV, the lives of those living with HIV can be no different than anyone else’s. Although many illnesses like HIV and Hepatitis C have their high risk cluster groups, based on a variety of factors, behaviors and influences, many of the deeply held beliefs about illnesses like HIV/AIDS have been proven to be myths born out of the limited understanding of an earlier time.
Of course, in Alabama, geography can be another barrier to timely testing and treatment related to any health condition. Much of Southern Alabama is extremely rural, often resulting in economic weakness and limited access to care. Issues of rural care have only started to gain attention over the last decade. During this time MAO has become a recognized leader in the effort to address inadequacies in rural care. In addition to having two full-service health and wellness clinics in Dothan and Montgomery, and a third opening soon in Atmore, MAO launched its Alabama e-Health Telemedicine Initiative in 2012. Using state-of-the-art telecommunication equipment with integrated Bluetooth medical data capturing equipment in 10 satellite clinics, MAO has paved the way for innovative responses in the South.
Having turned 30 in 2017, MAO now provides direct care to more than 1,800 annually spanning 28 Alabama counties infected or affected with HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C and other life-threatening illnesses. MAO also improves the lives of more than 4,500 at-risk individuals through testing and outreach initiatives in schools and community settings. To learn more about National HIV Testing Day, any of the events listed, or the menu of services offered by Medical Advocacy & Outreach (MAO), visit MAOI.ORG or call (800) 510-4704. Don’t forget to like and follow MAO on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. If you are a social worker or care provider, consider registering for the Wiregrass Breaking Barriers Summit on July 19th in Dothan to get the latest news about care and influences on care in the South, and 6.5 CE hours. Register online via the embedded link.
If you do get tested this month, consider sharing your story on social media using the hashtag #DoingItMyWay. The 2018 National HIV Testing Day theme reflects an increased effort nationwide to make HIV testing more convenient and accessible to all, regardless of who they are, where they are, and other factors of life. Be a part of the effort to remove stigma by saying I get tested and so should you.