Residents reminded to take advantage of free testing
In conjunction with World AIDS Day on Dec. 1, Chester County officials are urging residents to take advantage of opportunities for confidential, free testing.
The Chester County Health Department is partnering with Family Services of Chester County to educate and encourage residents who may be at risk to pursue testing for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.
“An estimated 1.1 million individuals are living with HIV infection in the United States,” said Chester County Health Director Margaret Rivello. “Of those 1.1 million people, an estimated 31,000 live in Pennsylvania and 460 live in Chester County.” Rivello said national statistics indicate that every nine and a half minutes someone becomes infected with HIV, and more than 14,000 people die each year from AIDS.
“Equally concerning is that one in five people in this country living with HIV is unaware of his or her infection and may be unknowingly transmitting HIV to others,” she said.
Throughout the year, the Chester County Health Department offers free, confidential testing at the Government Services Center on Westtown Road. No appointment is necessary, and the sexually transmitted disease clinic is open to the public on the following days/hours: second Monday of the month, 3 to 6 p.m.; fourth Monday of the month, 3 to 6 p.m.; Tuesdays, noon to 3 p.m.; and Wednesdays, 9 a.m. to noon and 3 to 6 p.m
In addition to testing, Health Department clinic staff provide free risk assessments and education along with free counseling and referrals. Family Service’s “Project One” program provides medical case management for people living with HIV or AIDS, as well as information about HIV offered to small and large groups of all ages in Chester County.
Rivello said residents should know that there are options now for HIV testing. FDA-approved oral swab, in-home test kits are now available at some pharmacies.
The Chester County Health Department is also available to answer questions on HIV and other STDs via email, Rivello said. Residents do not have to give their name, or any personal information and will receive an answer within 24 hours. Visit http://www.chesco.org/index.aspx?NID=2242.