In spite of awareness campaigns, HIV continues to be a major epidemic throughout the nation.Â The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that over one in five HIV infected persons are unaware of their status.Â On June 27, in recognition of National HIV Testing Day (NHTD), the Fulton County Department of Health and Wellness will be offering free testing and counseling at The Mall West End.
In January 2012, the CDC awarded a grant for $4.5 million for the first year to Fulton County to implement high impact HIV prevention programs in both Fulton and DeKalb Counties.Â Â The overall goal of the grant is to identify more residents who are HIV infected but are unaware of their status and to link those individuals with medical services and treatment.Â The grant funding will be increasing with a phasing in over five years.Â NHTD is an annual campaign to encourage at-risk individuals to receive voluntary HIV counseling and testing.
â€śOur participation in this national campaign continues to solidify our commitment to provide medical assistance and health education to stop the spread of HIV,â€ť says Patrice A. Harris, MD, Director, Fulton County Health Services.Â â€śWe hope that many will take advantage of this day to get tested and to learn more about the prevention of HIV.â€ťÂ
In Georgia, Fulton County was eligible for the CDC grant because the number of HIV infected persons in the County represented greater than 30% of all of the HIV infections in the 28-county Atlanta Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). The County has partnered with DeKalb County to provide similar services there in order to have the greatest impact on reducing new HIV infections.
The Fulton County Health Servicesâ€™ High Impact HIV Prevention Program, in collaboration with Saint Josephâ€™s Mercy Care Services, the Georgia Department of Public Health HIV Unit, the DeKalb County Board of Health, STAND, Inc., and the Empowerment Resource Center, Inc., will offer free, confidential testing and rapid HIV testing that provides same day results during National HIV Testing Day.Â In 2011, over 320 people took the free test and took control of their health in observance of National HIV Testing Day.
The CDC estimates that more than 1 million Americans are living with HIV. Â Â Unfortunately, one in five of those people are unaware of their infection.Â HIV testing enables people with HIV to take steps to protect their own health and that of their partners.Â HIV counseling helps people who test negative get the education they need to stay uninfected.
For more information on National HIV Testing Day activities, call (404) 613-1458 or log-on to www.fultoncountygahealth.org.