It’s an epidemic that millions battle.
According to the Center for Disease Control, 1.2 million people in the country are HIV-positive.
Go Care Wellness Coordinator Rusty Chambless says 13% of those people don’t know if they have the virus.
“HIV testing is one of those things that people don’t think about a lot, but it’s important that you come in and get tested so that you know your status,” said Chambless.
In northeast Louisiana there are 1,100 people living with HIV.
66% of those cases are men, 34% are women.
Among those cases 76% are African-American.
“The young African-American community has been hit hard by the epidemic and so we try to do a lot to bring that demographic in to get them in for testing,” said Chambless.
With 76 new cases in the area in 2016. Go Care who has been serving the Twin Cities since 1987 is committed to providing free HIV testing.
“We want people to know we’re here, because they do’t realize that there is free testing out there. A lot times they think that they have to go to a primary care physician to be treated or tested or the health unit, but we do HIV testing here free.”
Last week, I got tested.
The process was quick and easy.
You complete paperwork and talk with a counselor about preventative care.
Then the testing starts.
A finger prick for a blood sample and a 20-minute wait to learn your results.
Results that could potentially be the difference between life and death.
“A lot of people think an HIV diagnosis is a death sentence and its not… There is a lot of treatments out there and we can keep you healthy for years,” said Chambless.
Go Care will be hosting an open house Tuesday, June 27 from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m. at their office located at 1807 N. 7th Street in West Monroe.