Wednesday is National H-I-V Testing Day. But do you know how simple the test is or where you can get tested? You're about to find out.
What is the test like?
The oral test is simple, according to Pam Meador, Director at the Drop in Center on Campbell Avenue in Roanoke. The test takes just a few seconds as a swab is taken along the gums. The center also offers a test that pricks the finger for a small blood sample.
The test results are back fast: within just twenty minutes. Testing is free at the Drop In Center and if you go for a test through Thursday June 28th, you also get a $5.00 Walmart Gift Card.
No Reason to be Afraid
While most people are not afraid to get a yearly cholesterol test or a mammogram, many people are scared of getting an HIV test. "There are a lot of people that are scared to know. What I tell them is they don't have any control of their life if they don't know," Meador said.
If you test positive you can start on medicines, live a healthier life and take precautions to keep from infecting others, Meador explained.
Frank House of Roanoke was diagnosed more than 20 years ago "There weren't any medicines back then," House said. "I want to emphasize that there is a lot of hope out there. There have been a lot of great advancements in medicine."
Who should get tested?
The rule of thumb is that EVERYONE should get tested at least one a year.
If you're in a high risk group- every six months.
High risk people include anyone who is having unprotected sex with one or multiple partners or anyone who is sharing needles for drug use, tattoos or body piercing.
At the drop in center in Roanoke, there's no judging. "I don't care if you've had one partner or 50. I don't care if you're shooting drugs or snorting drugs," Meador said.
What the staff does care about: getting people tested and giving them the support and information that's needed no matter what the outcome of the test.
"If you've never had an HIV test just take one," Meador said. "The wait for the result, I'm not going to lie is (tough), but you'll walk out here feeling much better after you have your result."