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Free Tests in Texas on HIV Testing Day (Monday)

June 27, 2011

AUSTIN, Texas - Today is National HIV Testing Day. Free tests are available in at least seven Texas cities, including Dallas, Houston and San Antonio. Nearly 40 percent of people who contract HIV never find out until they develop symptoms of AIDS, which can take 10 years after infection.

Early HIV detection can delay progression and reduce the chances of infecting others. Planned Parenthood physician DeShawn Taylor says with today's rapid HIV testing, people can get finger-stick blood tests and know their status right away.

"If it's a positive result, then their blood has to be sent for a confirmation test. But the rapid test is really good. If it's negative, you're negative."

Besides today's free tests, low-cost HIV testing is available year-round at more than 800 Planned Parenthood health centers around the country. Home test kits are also available online.

Taylor says one out of every five people living with HIV today does not know it.

"There is no sore that you see or a burning or some type of physical symptom initially, to let the person know that they're HIV positive. It's asymptomatic."

When the first HIV/AIDS cases were reported 30 years ago this month, mostly gay men were affected. Today, Dr. Taylor says the largest increase in new infections is among minority women.

"Black and Hispanic women are now the highest group of new infections, due to heterosexual transmission."

Taylor credits information, education and awareness of how HIV/AIDS is spread for cutting the rate of new infections by more than half over the last 20 years.

A list of Texas Free Testing Day locations is available at www.hivtest.org. Home tests are sold online at www.homeaccess.com.

Peter Malof, Public News Service - TX