The Only Way to Know is to Get Tested!
GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan — In recognition of National HIV Testing Day on June 27, Planned Parenthood of West and Northern (PPWNM) is encouraging men, women, and young people to get tested for HIV by offering FREE HIV TESTING from Monday, June 23 through Friday, June 27 by appointment. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all Americans ages 13-to-64 receive routine HIV testing, not just those considered high risk.
PPWNM has locations in eight Michigan cities: Grand Rapids, Wyoming, Ionia, Muskegon, Big Rapids, Traverse City, Petoskey, and Marquette. People can call 800.230.PLAN (7526) and be connected to their nearest Planned Parenthood health center to make an appointment for Free HIV Testing Week, or log on to ppwnm.org for local contact numbers.
Rates of HIV remain a major concern in this country, particularly among young people and in specific communities. In the U.S., men who have sex with men, African Americans, and Latinos are disproportionately affected by HIV.
“In the United States, more than 1.1 million people are living with HIV, and almost one in six do not know they are infected. You cannot tell by looking at someone if they have HIV — the only way to know is to get tested,” said PPWNM Vice President of Medical Services Bridget White. “National HIV Testing Day is a reminder that getting tested for HIV is an important step in both stopping the spread of HIV and taking care of ourselves.”
PPWNM is able to provide Free HIV Testing Week, June 23–27, 2014, thanks to a partnership with Alere Inc., maker of the rapid HIV test.
“PPWNM provides affordable, convenient rapid HIV testing with results in just 20 minutes at eight health centers across the region,” White added. “Our doors are open to everyone, and we are here for any questions or concerns you might have.”
In addition to private, confidential HIV testing, Planned Parenthood offers a wide range of preventive health services including lifesaving cancer screenings, birth control, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), breast health services, the HPV vaccine for women and men ages 18-to-26, and sexual health information and education. Last year, PPWNM provided health care to nearly 14,000 people in our communities, conducting nearly 3,100 HIV tests.
Getting tested for HIV is simply a basic part of taking care of your health and your body — and it’s easier than ever before:
● Getting tested for HIV is quick, simple, and painless. Rapid HIV tests can provide results in as fast as 20 minutes from just a quick finger poke.
● Not all medical checkups include routine HIV testing — so unless you ask to be tested, you can’t assume you have been.
● Some conversations may seem hard to have, but open communication with your partner is essential to staying healthy and stopping the spread of HIV. You can take care of yourself and your partner by getting tested before you start having sex.
“Once you know your status, there is a lot you can do to protect your health, including practicing safer sex,” said White. “And the sooner you know your status, the sooner you can get any treatment and information you might need, depending on the results. Early treatment can help prevent serious health problems down the line.”
HIV can be managed and HIV-positive individuals can live full lives if they know their status and take action to stay as healthy as possible. Getting tested is the first step to finding out if you have HIV.
June is Men’s Health Month, an opportunity for men to take charge of their sexual health by getting regular checkups and screenings, including STI testing. Planned Parenthood provides basic health care for men, including HIV testing, testing and treatment for other STIs, and sexual health information and education. June is also Pride Month and Planned Parenthood is proud to provide health services and information to the LGBTQ community.