Some metro Atlanta counties are offering free HIV testing Thursday to help people learn their status on World AIDS Day.
The region is one of the hardest-hit areas when it comes to new diagnoses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Only Washington, D.C. and Louisiana had more new HIV diagnoses last year than Georgia.
In 2014, the state Department of Public Health said two-thirds of Georgia residents who are infected with HIV live in the Atlanta metropolitan area.
Darryl Richards, the STD/HIV prevention program coordinator for the DeKalb County Board of Health said it’s important for people to get tested both to help stop the spread of the disease and so that they can receive treatment.
“There are resources available to them,” he said.
In addition to two testing locations on Thursday, DeKalb will be conducting tests on Friday and Saturday.
Fulton County is expanding its normal testing on Thursday to include a mobile clinic outside the Aldredge Health Center, across from Grady Hospital, where testing is available every weekday. On Thursday, the county will also have condom demonstrations, information about Pre-exposure prophylaxis, also known as PrEP, and details about how to get treatment after receiving a positive HIV diagnosis. Counselors will be on site to talk to people about how to reduce their own risk.
“The epidemic has not abated, it’s alive and well,” said Teresa Bell, Fulton’s health program manager over testing and linkage services. “You’d be surprised at the number of people who don’t know their status.”
Fulton’s test is a finger prick, and results only take a minute, Bell said.
In Cobb, the testing is also a way to raise awareness about HIV, public health spokesperson Morgan Scroggs said. Almost one in eight people who are infected do not know it, the county said in a statement.
The rapid tests have results in about 20 minutes, and are done orally — so they don’t draw blood, Scoggs said.
“This is how you know your status,” said Richards, in DeKalb. “It can definitely affect your health.”
WHERE TO GET TESTED
Aldredge Health Center, 99 Jesse Hill Jr. Drive, SE in Atlanta. 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. A mobile clinic will be on site from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Marietta Public Health Center, 1650 County Services Parkway in Marietta. 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
East DeKalb Public Health Center, 2277 South Stone Mountain Lithonia Road in Lithonia. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Emory University’s Dobbs University Center, 605 Asbury Circle in Atlanta. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Clifton Springs Public Health Center, 3110 Clifton Springs Road in Decatur. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Plaza Fiesta, 4166 Buford Highway in Atlanta. Noon to 4 p.m.