Free HIV/AIDS testing available

Published: Wednesday, June 18, 2014 at 2:54 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, June 18, 2014 at 2:54 p.m.

Did you know that one in five people living with HIV/AIDS don't know they have it?



* What: National HIV Testing Day, with free testing countywide

* When: June 27

* Where: Macy’s, The Oaks Mall; Library Partnership, 1130 NE 16th Ave.; Cone Park Branch Library, 2841-A E. University Ave.; UF HealthStreet, 2401 Archer Road

* Information: Call 352-334-0160, 352-334-0720, 352-294-4880 or 352-334-7972.

So, why not get tested — for free — and learn your HIV/AIDS status during National HIV Testing Day, which will take place on June 27, the annual observance to promote HIV testing.

Teresa Mercado-White, Area 3/13 Minority AIDS Program coordinator at the Alachua County Health Department, is encouraging everyone to get tested.

"Why get tested? As a community, we can stop the spread of HIV by knowing our HIV status," Mercado-White said. "Many in the community, whether you are at risk or not, have never been tested for HIV."

"HIV does not discriminate," Mercado-White continued. "It does not matter who you are or if you are married or in a monogamous relationship. Get tested for HIV."

On National HIV Testing Day, testing will be available at the following sites:

Macy's, The Oaks Mall: 1-8 p.m., rapid HIV testing, condoms, raffle prizes, T-shirts and free makeovers.

Library Partnership Resource Center, 1130 NE 16th Ave.: 11 a.m.-3 p.m., HIV testing, condoms and HIV prevention information.

Cone Park Branch Library Resource Center, 2841-A E. University Ave.: 11 a.m.-3 p.m., HIV testing, prevention information and condoms.

UF HealthStreet, 2401 Archer Road: 9 a.m.-5 p.m., HIV testing, condoms and prevention information.

Mercado-White said anyone who gets tested at Macy's will receive gifts and will know their HIV results in 15 minutes.

"We chose this (mall) location because it's one location where we have never tested before and many people from all walks of life come to the mall — young and old," said Mercado-White.

Carressa Hutchinson, manager of the Library Partnership Resource Center, said this is the second time that National HIV Testing Day has been offered at Library Partnership by UF HealthStreet. HIV testing, blood pressure screenings and other services have been provided at Library Partnership for more than three years. Testing also is being sponsored by UF HealthStreet.

If library patrons miss this opportunity, Hutchinson said they can still receive HIV testing, information and condoms from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. the second and fourth Friday of each month at Library Partnership.

"We are glad to partner with HealthStreet to offer this free service in celebration of National HIV Testing Day and are incredibly fortunate to have partnerships that allow us to offer HIV testing and related information throughout the year at each of Partnership for Strong Families' resource centers," Hutchinson said. "Events such as this help make important services and programs readily available and easily accessible to the community."

Darryl Pastor, UF HealthStreet manager, said the purpose of National HIV Testing Day is to provide education and increase access to testing.

"Testing is so important," Pastor said. "We're trying to work ... to increase awareness and get people tested."

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