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Kent County Health Department offers free HIV testing for World AIDS Day

Kent County Health Department
Posted at 11:07 AM, Nov 29, 2021

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — In recognition of World AIDS Day, the Kent County Health Department will hold a free walk-in HIV testing event this week.

It’ll be from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Wednesday at the KCHD main clinic located at 700 Fuller NE in Grand Rapids, according to a news release Monday.

Certified test counselors will be at the clinic to provide testing, answer questions and connect residents with needed services.

Dec. 1, 2021 marks 40 years ago since the HIV epidemic began in the U.S.

Since then, more than 700,000 people throughout the country have died from the virus.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in eight people living with HIV in the U.S. doesn’t know they have the disease. Testing is the only way for someone to know their status and take the necessary steps to stop the spread of the HIV virus.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has made testing difficult,” said April Hight, personal health services supervisor at the Kent County Health Department. “This year we are hoping that more people will take advantage of our clinic and will we raise the level of community awareness about the importance of HIV testing.”

Though there is no vaccine for the virus, today’s treatments enable people with HIV to live long and healthy lives. One treatment is PrEP, a daily pill that is 99% effective at reducing the risk of acquiring the virus.

A person living with HIV who is on treatment and has an undetectable level of the virus in their blood isn’t able to transmit the virus to others. Health officials say this prevention method is about 100% effective as long as the person living with HIV takes their medication as prescribed and gets and stays undetectable.

HIV testing and PrEP are available at the Kent County Health Department’s Personal Health Services Clinic.

Residents may call the health department at 616-632-7171 to schedule a test or learn more about PrEP.