June 27, 2021 marks National HIV Testing Day (NHTD), which promotes testing and early diagnosis of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the virus that causes AIDS. This year’s theme, My Test, My Way, highlights that there are many ways and places to get tested for HIV. NHTD encourages people to get tested for HIV in a way that is best for them.
At the end of 2020, there were 6,548 people living with HIV in Orange County. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that an additional 918 Orange County residents had HIV and did not know it – some of whom will develop AIDS before knowing they have HIV.
Over 20% (56) of the 265 Orange County residents newly diagnosed with AIDS in 2020 learned they had HIV at the same time, indicating they were living with HIV for many years before getting ill. Many of these people had been to a health care setting like an emergency room, a community health center, or their doctor, but were not tested for HIV. A simple HIV test and treatment can prevent HIV from progressing to AIDS.
The CDC recommends that people between 13 and 64 years of age get tested for HIV at least once as part of routine health care. For those at high risk of HIV, the CDC recommends testing at least once per year as part of routine health care. Making HIV testing a routine part of health care will allow people to know their HIV status and for those who test positive, make it possible to seek treatment so they do not become sick. Another benefit to early detection of HIV is that people who know their HIV status are more likely to take steps to prevent spreading HIV to others. For those who test negative and are at high risk for HIV, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), a daily pill to prevent HIV.
If you have never been tested for HIV, ask your health care provider for an HIV test. Find a testing option that fits into your schedule and lifestyle. In addition to health care providers throughout Orange County, the following agencies offer free confidential HIV testing and free or low cost PrEP services:
- APAIT Health Center: Testing is offered Monday – Friday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Call (714) 636-1349 or visit www.apaitonline.org/ for more information. Testing hours will be extended and walk-ins are encouraged on Monday, June 28th in celebration of NHTD.
- OC 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: Testing is offered by appointment only. Tuesday and Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Thursday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Call (949) 809-8764 or visit www.radianthealthcenters.org/ for more information.
- The LGBT Center Orange County: Testing is offered Tuesday, 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Wednesday and Thursdays, 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., and Friday, 10 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. To make an appointment or for more information call (714) 953-5428 or visit www.lgbtcenteroc.org/. A special gift will be offered to those who test on Friday, June 25th in celebration of NHTD.
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.