ALBANY, N.Y. – In recognition of World Aids Day, free HIV testing will be offered to the Albany community on Saturday.
For those terrified of needles – no need to fear, the tests are bloodless and pain free. Test results are available in just 20 minutes via a Rapid HIV antibody test which uses oral fluid (and in some cases blood or urine) to detect HIV antibodies.
The event will be held from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. at the Reverend John U. Miller Community Justice Outreach Center on 155 Clinton Ave., Albany, N.Y.
What is HIV/AIDS?
Human Immunodeficiency Virus is a lot like other viruses, including those that cause the common cold. But there is an important difference – over time, your immune system can clear most viruses out of your body. That isn't the case with HIV – the human immune system can't seem to get rid of it. Scientists are still trying to figure out why.
We know that HIV can hide for long periods of time in the cells of your body and that it attacks a key part of your immune system that fights infections and disease. Instead HIV invades the healthy cells, uses them to make more copies of itself, and then destroys them.
Over time, HIV can destroy so many cells that a body can't fight infections and diseases anymore. When that happens, HIV infection can lead to AIDS.
How often should you get tested?
According to the AIDs.gov website, the CDC recommends that opt-out HIV screening be a part of routine clinical care for all patients aged 13-64.
So, you should ideally get an HIV test each time you have a medical check-up just like you have a blood test or a urine test to ensure your health.
But many are tested on the basis of their risk factors for getting HIV. You should get tested for HIV every at least every year if you:
- Share needles/syringes or other equipment for injecting drugs
- Have a history of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
- Have had unprotected sex with multiple or anonymous partners. Or if you have had had unprotected sex with a partner who did not know their own HIV status.
Some healthcare providers may recommend testing every 3-6 months if you have certain risk factors, including injection drug use and/or unprotected sex with others who engage in high-risk behaviors.