North Colorado: Free AIDS/HIV tests on World AIDS Day

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HIV testWorld AIDS Day will be Friday, Dec. 1. Established by the World Health Organization in 1988, World AIDS Day serves to focus global attention on the devastating impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Weld County has the fastest growing HIV rate in the eight-county service region of the Northern Colorado AIDS Project. As of June 30, there were 130 people living with HIV or AIDS in Weld County.

In October the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revised the recommendations for HIV testing for the general public. CDC believes that everyone should know whether or not they are infected with HIV because there are important health benefits to this knowledge. People who are HIV negative can take steps to stay that way and those who are infected with HIV can get treatment to improve health and extend life. They can also change their behaviors in order to reduce the chance of passing the virus on to others.

For the second year the Weld County HIV Task Force is offering free HIV testing on World AIDS Day for people at high risk of HIV. The testing will take place Friday, Dec. 1 from 2-6 p.m. at the Island Grove Treatment Center, 1260 H St. in Greeley. Appointments are recommended, as only a limited number of people can be tested. Call (970) 313-1138 to schedule an appointment.

HIV testing is recommended for people who engage in high-risk behaviors such as injecting drugs or steroids, having sex for money or drugs, men having sex with men, having sex with an HIV-infected person, and sexual partners of IV drug/vitamin/steroid users.

Hepatitis C testing will also be offered because many people who have been infected with HIV are also infected with Hepatitis C. The HIV testing will be free, as will the Hepatitis C testing, for people who are at high risk for HIV and/or Hepatitis C.

The Northern Colorado AIDS Project (NCAP) will also be offering free HIV testing at two Larimer County locations on World AIDS Day. HIV testing will be done at NCAP's offices at 400 Remington, Suite 100, Fort Collins, and at the Women's Resource Center in Loveland, 313 E. 4th St., from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. at both locations. Appointments are required at these locations; call (970) 484-4469.

Participating agencies in the HIV testing are the Northern Colorado AIDS Project, Island Grove Treatment Center, Women's Resource Center, Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, and the Weld County Department of Public Health and Environment.

Health care providers also offer HIV and Hepatitis C testing. Those who aren't defined as high risk may call the Weld County Department of Public Health and Environment, (970) 304-6420, Sunrise Community Health Center, (970) 353-9403, or Planned Parenthood (970) 352-4762 for assistance.

source - The Tribune