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National HIV Testing Day – Monday, June 27

National HIV Testing Day is Monday, June 27. Washtenaw County Public Health is providing walk-in testing and appointments throughout the week.  Call 734-544-6840 to schedule an appointment, or stop in at 555 Towner Street in Ypsilanti during the additional walk-in times:

  • Wednesday, June 29 from 9 am to 4 pm
  • Thursday, June 30 from 9 am to 4 pm
  • Friday, July 1 from 9 am to 12 pm

Washtenaw County Public Health’s Sexual Health Services program offers free HIV testing, sexually transmitted disease testing and treatment and partner notification services to everyone 13 years and older.

“HIV testing and education are incredibly important,” says Heather Wolf, LLMSW, HIV prevention specialist with Washtenaw County Public Health. “There is still a great deal of stigma surrounding HIV, people do not think it could affect them or they do not want to talk about it. But, the only way to know if you have HIV is to get tested. Routine testing can help you know more about your health and help de-stigmatize testing for everyone.”

Many people with HIV do not have any symptoms. In the United States, 1 in 8 people living with HIV do not know they have it. Washtenaw County Public Health’s Sexual Health Services program recommends testing 1-2 times per year or with each new partner.

HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) weakens a person’s immune system by destroying important cells that fight disease and infection. No effective cure exists for HIV. But with proper medical care, HIV can be controlled.

Even without symptoms, early treatment for HIV is important. Early treatment can help people living with HIV live longer, healthier lives. Treatment can also reduce the risk of passing HIV on to other people.

HIV in Washtenaw County

There were 27 new cases of HIV identified among Washtenaw County residents in 2015. The majority (70%) of new cases were in young people under the age of 30 years. Black men continue to be disproportionately affected and represented 56% of new cases in 2015.

HIV Transmission

HIV is spread through some of the body’s fluids, like blood, semen, rectal fluids, vaginal fluids and breast milk. HIV is passed from one person to another by:

  • Having sex (vaginal, anal or oral) without a condom, dental dam or other barrier with a person who has HIV
  • Sharing injecting drug equipment with someone who has HIV
  • Breastfeeding, pregnancy or childbirth if the mother has HIV
  • Getting a transfusion of blood that is infected with HIV (very rare in the United States)

Prevention

You can reduce your risk of HIV infection by limiting your number of sexual partners, never sharing needles and using condoms the right way every time you have sex. For individuals at high risk, there are newer medications, such as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and post-exposure prophylaxis. PrEP is available through Washtenaw County Public Health’s Sexual Health Services program.

Access to Testing and Health Care

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, the health care reform law passed in 2010, insurance plans must cover HIV testing. Although testing is free through our Sexual Health Services program, the Washtenaw Health Plan is located in the same building and helps uninsured individuals and families get coverage. Contact Washtenaw Health Plan at 734-544-3030, stop in week days from 9 am – 4 pm or visit healthcarecounts.org.

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