As part of the National HIV Testing Day the Department of Public Health (DPH) is encouraging residents to know their HIV status by signing up for a free HIV test.
“We want people to realize that knowing your HIV status, prevention and treatment options can improve your quality of life,” said Irene Ovalle-Valdez, HIV Prevention Program Manager.
“Those who get tested and find out they are HIV positive have the option of immediately receiving antiretroviral therapy, and those who test negative may get pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and other biomedical interventions as DPH has a status-neutral approach. This means all people will be treated the same regardless of your HIV status, because participating in prevention is a vital step in ending the HIV epidemic.”
The confidential and anonymous testing is available on Tuesday, June 29 and Wednesday, June 30, from 8 to 11:30 a.m. and 1 to 4:30 p.m. at the HIV Prevention center located at 701 Montana Avenue.
Anyone interested should call (915) 212-6665 to schedule an appointment.
For those who would prefer an at home self-test, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is currently distributing free HIV home self-testing kits. These tests are available for individuals 17 years of age or older and are eligible to request one or two test kits. Once they self-test and if the result is positive, the DPH will assist in confirming the test result and refer the client for any necessary treatment.
National HIV Testing Day is recognized on Sunday, June 27. This year’s theme, ‘My Test, My Way’ emphasizes that there are different ways and places to get tested for HIV, including at home with a self-test.
DPH officials say the test is especially important in relation to reducing HIV transmission, as more than 2,360 El Paso County residents live with HIV.
Based on the 2019 data from the Texas Department of State Health Services, there are an additional 110 individuals newly diagnosed with HIV in our community. The data shows that the Hispanic population bears the highest burden of people living with HIV in El Paso.
All protective measures against COVID-19 (social distancing, wearing a mask, etc.) will be strictly observed.
According to the CDC, an estimated 1.1 million people in the United States had HIV at the end of 2016, the most recent year for which this information is available. Of those people, about 14%, or 1 in 7, did not know they had HIV.