Testing and knowing status encouraged for HIV awareness

Published: Mar. 20, 2023 at 6:48 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - March 20 is National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, a day to promote HIV testing, prevention, and treatment in American Indian, Alaska Native, & Native Hawaiian communities. Health advocates are pushing more people to get tested for HIV, AIDS, and Hepatitis C. HIV is not easy to get from simple interactions, but it can happen to anyone.

Strength In Peers prioritizes testing because it is the most accurate way to be sure. Its work with the Virginia Department of Health reveals HIV is still prevalent along with the epidemic wave of Hepatitis C. VDH said that HIV can worsen into AIDS if not treated.

The leadership said staying above the wave for any of these diseases starts with understanding what your status is.

Hepatitis C is contractible by going into high level water with an open wound. The test is not invasive by any means, but it does take twenty minutes and the courage to ask for one.

“It’s a finger prick, and that single little drop of blood can be used to test you both HIV and Hepatitis C,” Strength in Peers Executive Director Nicky Fadley said.

People can get resources as they wait for results, including education on how to protect themselves and those around them. How frequently someone should get tested depends on their risk factors and if they have reason to believe that they might have been exposed to HIV.

Strength In Peers has free testing for HIV and Hepatitis C every week on Fridays from 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. at the Harrisonburg Office on 917 North Main Street. Appointments for another day can happen with a phone call.

There are no eligibility requirements and all testing is free and confidential.