NEWBURGH - In collaboration with National HIV Testing Day and to bring awareness to the community, The Greater Hudson Valley Family Health Center (GHVFHC) offered HIV testing at all of its locations on Thursday, June 27th, with special activities at Kaplan Family Pavilion.
In addition to HIV testing, the all-day event included HIV education as well as prizes, raffles and more, according to event organizer Christina Melendez. This was her first year organizing the event and took a little over a month to plan.
Last year the goal of 100 tests was crushed, as over 200 individuals participated in HIV Testing Day at the health center. They hope to surpass that number this year.
The theme for the 2013 National HIV Testing Day is to "Take the Test, Take Control." According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), about 1.2 million people in the United States are living with HIV, and almost one in five do not know they are infected.
Locally, in the four county region of Dutchess, Orange, Sullivan and Ulster, in 2010 there were a total of 2,080 people living with HIV and AIDS in the Mid-Hudson Region. The largest age group is 50-59 with 720 people. In 2010 there were 54 newly diagnosed HIV cases in this region. The highest age group was 40-49.
The Family Health Center hopes to reduce these numbers by encouraging the community to get tested. Whether patients have HIV or not it is important to take these measures to ensure a healthy lifestyle.
According to Marilyn Morales, Program Director of the Positive Choices Center at the Greater Hudson Valley Family Health Center, "When you know your status, the quicker you can get medical services [if needed]."
With today’s technology, you can learn your HIV status in 20 minutes. Morales explains that the test is performed without the use of a needle and is pain-free.
"We simply swipe the inside of the patients gum line with an oral swab. The swab is then placed into a solution and you get the results in 20 minutes."
If a test comes out positive, then a follow test is done. That follow up test is completed by drawing blood. Whatever the outcome, Morales ensures that the GHVFHC is ready to assist patients with all their medical needs.
If you missed the HIV Test Day, it’s never too late to get tested. "This is the day when we highlight and bring awareness to knowing your status. However you can get the test done anytime," Morales said.