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For Release: June 19, 2012 - Pamela Williams, Office of Communications - 405/271-5601

Testing and Prevention are Keys to Reducing HIV in Oklahoma
National HIV Testing Day is June 27

In the United States, nearly 1.2 million people are living with HIV, yet almost one in five persons does not know that he or she is infected. It is widely accepted that the “fear of knowing” is one of the contributing factors to the reservations some have about submitting to a test. 

National HIV Testing Day is held annually on June 27 to bring awareness about HIV/AIDS and to empower the public to take the first step by voluntarily taking the test and control of their health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has determined that once persons know their status, they are more likely to engage in preventative behaviors such as abstaining, not sharing needles, using a condom correctly and consistently every time, or embracing certain harm reduction habits that will lower their chances of becoming infected or passing the virus on to others in the future.  Also, “knowing” is the only way an infected person can access life-saving treatment through anti-retroviral therapy that has been proven to extend the quantity and quality of life. 

By the end of 2010, an estimated 8,462 cases of HIV/AIDS had been diagnosed among residents of Oklahoma. According to the CDC and the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH), black and Latino gay and transgendered men continue to have disproportionately high rates of new HIV infection both nationally and in Oklahoma. The following are two Oklahoma City organizations’ efforts to engage the community in HIV prevention activities that include National HIV Testing Day opportunities: 

  • Guiding Right, Inc., a non-profit community-based HIV prevention organization, will observe National HIV Testing Day by hosting a viewing of a movie, “Paris Is Burning,” on Friday, June 22, at 10 p.m. at Expression Community Outreach Center located at 4010 N. Youngs Blvd, Oklahoma City.  This 1990 documentary explores race, class, and gender in America and chronicles the struggles that the minority gay, bisexual, and transgendered community faced then and now.  Also, on Saturday, June 23, Bnyce Entertainment will host a “Paris is Burning” themed party at Club CoCo’s, 1140 N. MacArthur Blvd., at 11 p.m. Guiding Right will offer free confidential testing at these venues both nights. For more information about these events, please contact Phillip Rideout at (405) 733-0771 ext. 329 or Brandi Davis at (405) 361-1473
  • Red Rock Behavioral Health Services located at 4400 N. Lincoln Blvd., Oklahoma City, will offer free, walk-in, confidential RAPID HIV testing on Wednesday, June 27, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

In Oklahoma, HIV testing is offered at several sites throughout the state.  It is also provided free of charge at all state-approved test sites listed on the OSDH website at www.health.ok.gov, or the public can visit a local health department for a comprehensive STD exam including HIV testing.  Call 2-1-1 for the nearest location.  Many sites offer an oral rapid test where no blood is involved and a preliminary result is available within 20 minutes.  Other tests may use a drop of blood drawn from a quick finger prick, causing very mild to no discomfort or pain.  For detailed information about National HIV Testing Day, visit http://www.hivtest.org/press_files/.  

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