June 27 marks National HIV Testing Day, which promotes testing and early diagnosis of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the virus that causes AIDS. This year’s theme, Doing It My Way, is a call to action that encourages people to get tested for HIV in a way that is best for them. At the end of 2018, there were 6,369 individuals living with HIV in Orange County and by estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) an additional 893 residents have HIV and don’t know it – some of whom will develop AIDS before realizing they are HIV-infected.
“In 2018, there were 280 new diagnoses of AIDS in Orange County residents,” said Dr. Nichole Quick, Interim County Health Officer. “Over 20% (57) learned of their HIV infection at the time they were diagnosed, indicating they were living with HIV, in some cases for many years, before becoming ill. Many of these people had been to a medical setting such as an emergency room, a community health center, or their doctor, but were not tested for HIV. A simple HIV test and proper follow-up care would almost certainly have enabled them to avoid getting AIDS.”
Federal guidelines now recommend HIV screening for people between 15 and 65 years of age; and, for those at high risk of infection, testing at least once per year as part of routine care. Making HIV testing a routine part of medical care will enable people to learn their HIV status and, if HIV infected, make it possible to seek treatment so they don’t become sick. An additional benefit to early detection of HIV is that people who know their HIV status are more likely to take steps to prevent spreading the disease to others. For those who test negative and are at high risk for HIV infection, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), a daily pill to prevent HIV infection.
If you have never been tested for HIV, ask your medical provider for an HIV test. Find a testing location that fits your schedule and lifestyle. In addition to medical providers throughout Orange County, the following agencies offer free confidential testing:
- APAIT Health Center: Walk-ins accepted Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Call (714) 636-1349 or visit http://apaitonline.org for more information.
- Orange County Health Care Agency/17th Street Testing &Treatment Clinic: Walk-ins accepted based on availability. Clinic hours: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Tuesday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Call (714) 834-8787 to make an appointment or visit http://www.ochealthinfo.com/std for more information.
- Radiant Health Centers: Walk-ins accepted Tuesday-Thursday, 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Call (949) 809-8771 or visit https://www.radianthealthcenters.org for more information.
- The LGBT Center Orange County: Walk-ins accepted Monday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tuesday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., Wednesday, 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday, 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Friday, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. To make an appointment or for more information call (714) 953-5428 or visit www.lgbtcenteroc.org.
- For more testing sites and information about HIV services in Orange County, please call (714) 834-8711 or visit www.ochealthinfo.com/phs/about/dcepi/hiv/sites.
This article was released by the OC Health Care Agency.