Today is HIV National Testing Day.
While there is nothing special planned in Richmond County, the Health Department wants residents to know they may get tested for free at anytime. A blood sample will be drawn and patients can usually expect results in three weeks.
“Just call and make an appointment,” Director of Health Tommy Jarrell said. “Everything is confidential.”
Appointments can usually be made within a few days. Patients can expect to receive counseling before and after the test, regardless of the results. The health department requires residents to come in to get their results and will receive a call notifying them to come in.
Jarrell said that patients who are diagnosed as HIV positive will be referred to resources for medicine and medical and specialty care.
Cheryl Speight, Nursing Supervisor 1, said that in Richmond County as of the end of 2010 there were 81 known individuals with HIV and 42 people living with AIDS. Those were the most recent numbers available. She said there could be many factors that would prevent the true prevalence of these diseases from being known, like when a person moves into or out of the county.
According to a statement from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services in June 2011, one in 268 people in North Carolina is infected with HIV. Most new infections are found in people younger than 30, nationwide and in the state. Almost half of all new cases of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV, are found in people in that age group.
A study released by the Southern HIV/AIDS Strategy Initiative in December 2011 found that the rate of new HIV infections per 100,000 population was highest in the Southern U.S. Eight of the 10 states with the highest new infection rates were found in the South. Half of newly reported infections were reported in the South although the region accounts for only 37 percent of the country’s population.
The study is entitled “HIV/AIDS Epidemic in the South Reaches Crisis Levels in the Last Decade” and was conducted by the Duke Center for Health Policy and Inequalities Research.
Anyone interested in getting tested may contact the Richmond County Health Department at 910-997-8301.
— Justin Allen can be reached at 704-694-2161, or firstname.lastname@example.org.