Free sexually transmitted infection (STI) and rapid HIV testing will be offered by the Oakland County from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday by the Oakland County Health Division at Affirmations, 290 W. 9 Mile Road in Ferndale.
The testing is offered as part of the World AIDS Day awareness campaign. World AIDS Day was Dec. 1, but activities continue throughout the week.
“Everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 needs to be tested yearly for HIV,” Shane Bies, Public Health Nursing Services administrator, said in a news release “Those engaging in risky behaviors such as sharing needles and having unprotected sex with multiple partners should be tested more often.”
HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus, can lead to AIDS, or acquired immune deficiency syndrome, which was first recognized in 1981.
HIV destroys white blood cells that help fight off infection. HIV is mainly spread through unprotected sex, sharing needles or other items used to inject drugs. HIV can also be spread from mother to child during pregnancy, birth or breast-feeding.
HIV cannot survive outside the human body. It is not spread by air, water, insects, saliva, tears, sweat or casual contact. Casual contact may include shaking hands, sharing dishes, closed-mouth or “social” kissing.
Bies shared the following tips to prevent the spread of HIV:
Abstain from sexual activity or remain in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner.
Limit sex partners. The fewer partners you have, the less likely you are to encounter someone who is infected with HIV or another STI.
Use condoms correctly and consistently. Latex condoms are highly effective at preventing transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. “Natural” or lambskin condoms do not provide enough protection against HIV infection.
Get tested and treated for STIs. Insist that partners do too.
Do not inject drugs. Drugs counseling and treatment can help stop or reduce drug use. Those who cannot stop injecting drugs should use clean needles when injecting. Call 248-858-5200 for help quitting drugs.
Get medical treatment immediately if possible exposure to HIV occurs. HIV medications can prevent infection if started quickly.
“There are over 1 million people living with HIV in the U.S. and one in five of those people do not know they are infected,” Bies said. “Getting an HIV test is important for everyone. Studies show that early treatment of HIV may delay the onset of AIDS.”
AIDS has killed more than 30 million people worldwide, including more than 635,000 individuals in the United States of America. It is estimated that more than 16,000 people with AIDS die each year in the U.S.
World AIDS Day is held on Dec. 1 each year and is a day for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV or AIDS and to remember the lives lost to AIDS-related illnesses. In 1988, World AIDS Day became the first health day to be celebrated globally.
This year’s World AIDS Day theme is “Getting to Zero” by 2015 – zero AIDS related deaths, zero new infections and zero discrimination. The World AIDS Day Organization is asking everyone to Act Aware all year long. Acting Aware means finding out the facts about HIV and using this knowledge to protect yourself and others from HIV infection.
For more information about STI and Rapid HIV testing or confidential, anonymous HIV counseling and referral services, call (248) 858-5416 or visit www.oakgov.com/health or Facebook and Twitter @publichealthOC.