June 14, 2023
Contact: Natalie Shelton
National HIV Testing Day and access to treatment in Georgia
Georgia ranks in top five states for people living with HIV
National HIV Testing Day on Tuesday, June 27, highlights not only the importance of HIV testing, but also of emphasizing the steps everyone can take once they know their HIV status. This year’s theme is “Take the Test & Take the Next Step” and is a nationwide effort to highlight that knowing your HIV status helps you choose options to stay healthy—and that help is available in getting you linked to treatment, care and services.
“With the free, confidential rapid HIV testing that’s now available—along with so many effective medications and treatments—it’s best to find out your status as soon as you can,” said Tito Terry, HIV prevention coordinator for District 4 Public Health. “Whether you’re positive or negative, we can help you take charge or your health by linking you with the care and support you need.”
In Georgia, one in every five individuals with HIV doesn’t know he or she is positive, Terry said. On World AIDS Day in December 2022, Georgia was reported as the No. 1 state in the U.S. for new HIV infections, with Atlanta being a hot spot. Georgia ranks top five in the country for people living with HIV—over 60,000 in 2020—the last year for which there is reliable, comprehensive data.
District 4’s health departments—located in Butts, Carroll, Coweta, Fayette, Heard, Henry, Lamar, Meriwether, Pike, Spalding, Troup, and Upson counties—offer free, confidential HIV testing Monday through Friday, In addition, District 4 and some of its county health departments will have free HIV testing events on National HIV Testing Day and throughout the week of June 26-30.
District 4 Public Health, the Henry County Health Department, and Greater Than Aids will join Walgreens at 1855 Hudson Bridge Road in Stockbridge for its free, confidential, rapid-result HIV Testing Walk-In Clinic from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesday, June 27. Along with the health department, District 4’s HIV Prevention and Epidemiology teams will be on hand to answer questions about HIV prevention and access to treatment options in Georgia.
In addition, the Carroll County Health Department will offer a free HIV rapid testing event from 1 to 4 p.m. on National HIV Testing Day on Tuesday, June 27, with no appointment needed.
The Upson County Health Department provides a free HIV rapid testing clinic from 1 to 4 p.m. the first Wednesday of each month with no appointment necessary.
The CDC recommends everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once as part of routine health care, and more often if you have certain risk factors. To determine your risk, visit hivrisk.cdc.gov.
District 4’s county health departments provide free, confidential, rapid HIV testing with a small finger prick, with results ready in 60 seconds after being tested. HIV tests do not require a prior appointment but for all other needs, please call (800) 847-4262 for an appointment.
If a test is positive, the health department can confirm it with a laboratory blood test. Because District 4 health departments are part of Georgia’s Test-Link-Care (TLC) Network, they can help individuals connect with a Linkage Coordinator to be sure they receive the medical care and support services they need to live a long and healthy life with HIV. The coordinator also can share information on how to prevent transmitting HIV to others.
Individuals whose test results are negative can receive information on protecting themselves from HIV infection, including pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) medications, condoms, and other sexual health services such as vaccines and testing for sexually transmitted infections.
PrEP is a medication that reduces the chance of getting HIV from sex or injection drug use. When taken as prescribed, PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex by about 99 percent, reduces the risk of getting HIV from injecting drugs by 74 percent according to the CDC. It is even more effective if combined with other preventive measures, Terry said.
Terry and District 4’s HIV Prevention team work along with District 4’s county health departments to provide referrals so that eligible patients can receive free PrEP medication through the Gilead Advancing Access program. They also can provide referrals for PeP (post-exposure prophylaxis), which is medication given to prevent HIV after a possible exposure. It should only be used in emergency situations and must be started within 72 hours after a recent possible exposure to HIV, according to the CDC.
Free HIV self-test kits also are available at capus.dph.ga.gov/ehe or can be picked up at the Troup or Henry county health departments. HIV self-testing can be done at home, with results available in about 20 minutes.
Free condoms are available at District 4 county health departments. To receive free condoms by mail, visit bit.ly/D4_CondomsByMail.
For more information on HIV prevention, testing, and care, contact Tito Terry or Ana Soler at District 4 Public Health at (706) 845-4035. For health department appointments, call (800) 847-4262.