STAUNTON, Va. (WHSV) -- Monday is National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
Nearly 7,000 women in Virginia are living with the disease, according to the Virginia Department of Health.
The Department of Health has launched a public health campaign called "Virginia Greater Than AIDS" to reach out to women across the commonwealth hoping to battle the stigma of the disease and raise awareness.
Alexandra C. de Havilland, the director of the Valley AIDS Network, said that's a big part of the problem; not knowing the disease is here and not realizing you could be at risk.
"I tell people what I do, a lot of people will say 'AIDS? Like as in HIV/AIDS?' And I say 'yeah,' and they say 'We have that here?' And I say 'Yeah, we do.' The fact is, it's definitely still out there and there is no cure and treatment is available but very expensive. And it alters your life completely to have an HIV diagnosis," said de Havilland.
The Valley AIDS Network is set to begin its first rapid HIV testing program which would allow people to get HIV test results back within 20 minutes.
de Havilland said it's important to get tested because one of the biggest problems is that people don't know they have h-i-v.
"It doesn't show symptoms initially. People don't necessarily think they're at risk. So by catching it much earlier... Being able to tell somebody, 'Yes, you are HIV positive, and here's how we need to help you handle it," said de Havilland.
© Copyright 2014 WHSV / Gray Television Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.