National HIV testing day helps to bring awareness to CSRA

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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Some of the highest rates of HIV diagnoses are found here in Georgia and South Carolina with African Americans leading in the number of HIV cases. That’s why the Georgia Department of Public Health is urging everyone to know your status and get tested.

“It’s better to know than not to know so that either route we can make sure you’re connected to services,” says Brandon Dykes, HIV Program Manager at the Georgia Department of Public Health.

The Georgia Department of Public Health is joining in the fight to stop the spread of HIV and AIDS.

“Knowing your status is really important whether it’s negative or positive because if you are negative, we have the tools to keep you negative. If you’re positive, we have the resources to make sure you live a long healthy life,” says Brandon.

Health departments we looked into report HIV still remains the leading cause of death among adults in the US. Despite the numbers, there are aspects of the disease some people do not know.

“You can only get HIV through sexual contact with someone or injection drug usage or breast milk. So, there’s…the myths that they are afraid of, the most common ones are not true. That everyday contact and touch, eating, drinking, those are not ways that individuals can get HIV from someone,” says Brandon.

The testing site offered people a free rapid HIV test, which is a new way to be tested and it takes only a minute to get your results. Organizers with the testing site say it’s important for everyone to know their status no matter the result.

“People think that HIV is something of the past. Something that you don’t have to worry about. So, it’s still important to get packets from society to educate them and let everyone know HIV is still something we need to educate people on,” says Ken Bonds, Jr., a Co-Organizer of the event.

The information may change about HIV but DPH’s mission continues to remain the same: to stop the stigma, educate, and get people tested.

“We have lots of tools and resources to make sure individuals with HIV live a long healthy life because the overall goal is to make sure those living with HIV can take care of themselves medically and we can provide some assistance along the way,” says Brandon.

To find out where you can get tested and know your HIV status, click or tap here.

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