LANHAM, Md. (CBSDC) — More than 34,000 people in the Washington Metropolitan area are living with HIV, and 20 percent of those with the virus are unaware they have it, according to D.C.’s Department of Health.
Do You Know Your Status?
Knowing is half the battle and Brant Miller, program assistant with the D.C. Center for the LGBT Community, says it’s a duty to yourself and others around you.
“HIV testing is really important not only for the individual but also for the community,” Miller says. “The more we talk to each other about our status, the less of a stigma there is. It promotes sexual health.”
National HIV Testing Day is June 27 and the campaign is urging people to “Take the Test, Take Control.”
With HIV affecting all races, sexual orientations and ages in the District, the virus does not discriminate.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention suggests everyone between the ages of 16-64 get tested once a year, while gay and bisexual men should be tested every three to six months. The sooner you know, the fewer complications it can cause, according to the CDC.
D.C. has seen a growing number of older individuals diagnosed and living with the virus. More than 70 percent of those living with HIV are over 40 years old and 35 percent of them were diagnosed after turning 30.
DOH points to individuals dating and being more sexually active at an older age, as well as better HIV medication, as a cause for the rise in that age range.
HIV is No Longer a Death Sentence
“Cancer used to have the same stigma,” Miller says. “People used to leave you for dead in their minds.”
Advances in medicine have made the multiple pill “cocktails” HIV patients used to take, obsolete. Now, in many cases, one pill a day can keep the viral count down, according to the DOH.
“But the first step is asking for the test,” says a DOH spokesperson.
The region’s health organizations have made it easy, offering several locations for free and fast testing.
“It’s a swab in the mouth and results come within 20 minutes or less,” Khadijah with Reaching All HIV+ Muslims in America says.
“Although June 27 is National HIV Testing Day, in the district, everyday is HIV testing day,” says the same DOH spokesperson.
The directory of clinics offering HIV/AIDS services year round can be found here.
The following locations are hosting free testing events.
National Council of Negro Women, Inc.
Free confidential HIV testing with $10 Safeway gift cards and free ice cream while supplies last along with information and interactive HIV educational sessions.
633 Pennsylvania Avenue, NE
Thursday, June 27, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Us Helping Us
3636 Georgia Avenue, NW
Thursday, June 27, 2 – 7 p.m.
1217 22nd Street, NW
Thursday and Friday, June 27 and 28, 3-7 p.m.
Saturday, June 29, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
4225 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Elizabeth Taylor Medical Center
1701 14TH St., NW
9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Max Robinson Center
2301 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, SE
10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Capitol Hill, NW,
New Jersey Ave. and C Street, NW,
3:30 – 6:30 pm.
Charles County Department of Social Services
200 Kent Avenue
La Plata, MD 20646
Monday, June 24, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Charles County Department of Health
4545 Crain Highway
White Plains, MD 20695
9001 Woody Terrace
Clinton, MD 20735
6717 Richmond Highway
Alexandria, VA 22306
3050A Nutley Street
Fairfax, VA 22031
761 E Main Street
Purcellville, VA 20132