National HIV Testing Day is Wednesday, June 27, and the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) encourages everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 to get tested at least once in their life as part of their routine health care. People with certain risk factors should get tested more often.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are more than 1.2 million people in the United States living with HIV. Due to effective treatments, people are living long and healthy lives with HIV. However, it is important to start treatment as soon as a person finds out they are HIV-positive. Since 1982, Oklahoma has had more than 10,000 HIV/AIDS cases and there are currently about 6,000 people living with HIV throughout the state.
The CDC estimates there are 50,000 new cases of HIV each year in the United States. Almost one in seven people are unaware of their HIV status. For young people between the ages of 13-24 living with HIV, more than half are unaware of their status. Getting tested is the only way to know.
This year’s theme is “Doing it my way, testing for HIV.” The OSDH will be promoting the CDC’s social media campaign that makes HIV testing personable and relatable by highlighting how and why people make testing part of their regular health care routine.
County health departments provide testing services. Other testing sites can be found at www.locator.hiv.gov or text your zip code to KNOW IT (566948). There are also community-based organizations throughout the state which offer rapid HIV testing able to give results in about 20 minutes. Locations and dates are below.
Expressions Community Center will have free, confidential HIV and syphilis testing, June 27, from 10 a.m.- 6 p.m. They are located at 2245 N.W. 39th Street. Call (405) 528-2210 for more information.
The Latino Community Development Agency (LCDA) will partner with Walgreens to provide free HIV testing, June 27, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 9001 S. Pennsylvania. The LCDA also will provide free condoms. For more information, contact Nohora Chandler at (405) 236-0701 at the LCDA, or Julian Ceballos at (405) 230-2231 at Walgreens.
Guiding Right Inc. of Oklahoma City will be providing testing at the Walgreens on N.W. 23rd and Classen, June 27, from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.; and June 28 at the Ralph Ellison Library, located at Martin Luther King and 23rd Street, from 3-7 p.m.
Red Rock Behavioral Health Services will be providing free, confidential, HIV and syphilis testing, June 27, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. located at 4400 N. Lincoln Blvd. Call Michael Maus at (405) 425-0473 for more information.
Red Rock Behavioral Health Services also will be providing free, confidential HIV and syphilis testing from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at NorthCare Q Space located at 4401 N. Classen Blvd. Call Michael Maus at (405) 425-0473 for more information.
Health Outreach Prevention Education, Inc. (H.O.P.E.) will be offering free testing by walk-in, June 26-27, at the Dennis R. Neil Equality Center, from 4-8 p.m.
Guiding Right, Inc. will be providing testing, June 26, at Walgreens, 31st and Garnett from 12-3 p.m.
Activities which place persons at risk for acquiring HIV include injecting drugs and sharing needles, men who have sex with men, and having sex with someone whose sexual history is unknown. Among other risk reduction strategies, the OSDH encourages pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) as a prevention option. PrEP is a once-a-day pill for people who are HIV-negative, but who are at risk of contracting HIV. According to the CDC, PrEP has been shown to reduce the risk of contracting HIV by more than 90 percent.
For services at a county health department, contact the nearest site for clinic hours and appointments. For more information about HIV, please contact the OSDH HIV/STD Service at (405) 271-4636 or visit https://hivstd.health.ok.gov.