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Posted: Jun 15, 2009  14:31

Free HIV Testing Available


Panhandle Health District (PHD) will provide free HIV testing by appointment at its office in Bonners Ferry on Tuesday June 23, and Monday, June 29. National HIV Testing Day is Saturday, June 27, when PHD is closed.

PHD offers Rapid HIV tests which provide results in 15 minutes. The free tests are available to people ages 13 to 64.

"Studies show people who know they're HIV-positive take more precautions," said Donna Marshall-Holden, who coordinates PHD's sexually transmitted disease and HIV program. "We want the HIV rate to go down."

HIV is passed on through contact with blood, semen, vaginal fluids or breast milk of an infected person. Unprotected sex with an untested partner places a person at high risk of HIV exposure. Sharing syringes and needles can expose a person to blood infected with HIV. Infected women can pass the virus to their babies during pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding.

A long-term monogamous sexual relationship with a tested partner is the best prevention to HIV exposure. Latex condoms and not sharing syringes and needles also offer some protection. People may be infected with HIV and not know it. HIV infection doesn't exhibit visible signs and it may take years to develop into AIDS. An HIV test is the only confirmation that a person is not infected.

The Rapid HIV test is similar to a pregnancy test, using blood instead of urine. If test results are positive, blood will be drawn from the patient for a second test for confirmation.

PHD's Bonners Ferry office is located at 7402 Caribou. To schedule an appointment for a free HIV test on June 23 or June 29, call 267-5558.

Information: contact Cynthia Taggart Public Information Officer, 208-415-5108, 208-818-7288.


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