GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The Kent County Health Department is offering free walk-in HIV testing next week in recognition of World AIDS Day.
The confidential testing is only available at the department’s main clinic located at 700 Fuller Ave. NE in Grand Rapids from 8 a.m. to 6:45 p.m. on Dec. 2-6.
Tests only take one minute to complete and can yield preliminary results in about 20 minutes.
Health department officials are encouraging anyone who have never been tested for HIV to go get a test.
“It’s really important to test, because some of the signs and symptoms and mimic other things of HIV, so when someone is first infected, they may have flu-like symptoms … somebody may not have any symptoms at all, or anything that indicates that they are infected, and so it’s really important to test because that is the only way that you know,” said April Hight, personal health services program director.
Hight says early detection is great because people who test positive can get into treatment right away.
“It’s usually 1 to 2 pills that you take, people are living until they’re 90 like anyone else, there are plenty of other chronic health issues that are more of an issue and harder to manage,” Hight said. “The problem is the stigma behind HIV, in that it’s deeply routed from the 1980s in fear and lack of knowledge from the community on how HIV is spread.”