AIDS Project Rhode Island is joining with National Black Leadership on AIDS, the Centers for Disease Control, the Black AIDS Institute and other organizations in participating in National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on Sunday, February 7, 2016.
The national theme is “I am my brother’s and sister’s keeper. Fight HIV/AIDS.” A supporting theme is “Get educated, get tested, get involved and get treated.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control, of all racial/ethnic groups in the United States, African Americans have the most severe burden of HIV. The Rhode Island Department of Health reports that Blacks/African Americans and Hispanics in Rhode Island experience a disproportionate burden of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.
In observance of the day, AIDS Project Rhode Island is offering special hours for free, anonymous, rapid HIV testing at its 9 Pleasant Street, Providence, RI 02906 location on Sunday, February 7 from noon until 3 p.m. on a walk-in basis. No blood is drawn, and results are available in 20 minutes.
Anyone wishing to be tested is welcome. Testing will be available in English, Spanish and Portuguese.
HIV stands for “Human Immunodeficiency Virus.” HIV can lead to AIDS, “Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome,” which greatly weakens the immune system increasing the opportunity for serious infections and cancers. Treatments for AIDS, and to prevent HIV from turning into AIDS, have greatly improved over the years so infected persons can often have normal lifespans with proper care.
The Centers for Disease Control recommends everyone between 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once. “HIV testing should take place more often if you are engaging in risky behavior, such as sharing needles or engaging in unprotected sex,” said Stephen Hourahan, AIDS Project Rhode Island’s executive director. The organization offers an “HIV Risk Quiz” under the “Get Tested” drop-down menu on its website www.aidsprojectri.org.
In addition to testing, information will be available about treatment to reduce the risk of HIV infection, Pre Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) and Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP). PrEP is an HIV prevention approach where HIV-negative individuals use anti-HIV medications to reduce their risk of becoming infected if they are exposed to the virus. PEP is an HIV prevention strategy where HIV-negative individuals take HIV medications after coming into contact with HIV to reduce their risk of becoming infected.
AIDS Project Rhode Island regularly offers free, anonymous, rapid HIV, and Hepatitis C, walk-in testing Tuesdays 4 to 6 p.m. and Thursdays from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Appointments are also available and can be made by calling 401-831-5522 ext. 3824 or emailing [email protected].
AIDS Project Rhode Island will be providing free, anonymous, rapid testing in the United Way 2-1-1 Outreach RV at South Providence Neighborhood Ministries, 747 Broad Street, Providence from 9 a.m. to noon on Tuesday, January 19; Camp Street Ministries, 190 Camp Street, Providence from 9 a.m. to noon on Thursday, January 21; McAuley House, 622 Elmwood Avenue, Providence from 9 to 11 a.m. on Friday, January 22; and at the Church of St. John the Baptist, 69 Quincy Street, Pawtucket on Monday, January 25 from 10 a.m. to noon.
Also, on Tuesday, January 26 at Olneyville Food Center, 261 Manton Avenue, Providence from 9 a.m. to noon; Wednesday January 27 from 9 a.m. to noon at St. Edward Food and Wellness Center, 1001 Branch Avenue, Providence; and Emmanuel House, 239 Public Street, Providence, on Thursday, January 28 from 9 to 10 a.m.
Visit www.aidsprojectri.org for an updated schedule for testing on the United Way 2-1-1 Outreach RV.
AIDS Project Rhode Island is a division of Family Service of Rhode Island.