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June 26. 2012 8:49PM

Free HIV testing across NH, rest of country Wednesday

CONCORD — N.H. Department of Health and Human Services is offering free, oral HIV tests at multiple sites across the state Wednesday, which is National HIV Testing Day.

There is no blood draw needed, and the results are available within 20 minutes.

“It is estimated that 1 in 5 people infected HIV in the United States don’t know it,” Dr. Jose Montero, director of public health at DHHS said. “It is now recommended that everyone ages 13 to 64 be tested at least once as part of their routine health care.”

People can live for years with proper medication, so that HIV, which used to be a death sentence, can now be considered a chronic illness for those infected. However, to take advantage of these advances people need to know their HIV status first and early diagnosis of HIV is still a challenge.

This year marks the 31st anniversary of the HIV outbreak, the virus that causes AIDS. HIV is most commonly spread through unprotected sex, sharing of needles with an HIV-infected person, or transmission from an infected mother to her baby.

The Manchester Health Department is also providing testing, by appointment. “Testing is an important first step to link persons with HIV infection to medical care and other support systems to improve their health and prevent transmission of the virus,” said Tim Soucy, the city’s public health director. To schedule an appointment in Manchester, call Josie Holguin at 628-6003, Ext. 321. To locate a participating site, go to www.dhhs.nh.gov or call the DHHS Infectious Disease Prevention, Investigation and Care Section at 603-271-4502.

For more information about HIV, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at www.cdc.gov/Features/HIVtesting.


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