INGHAM COUNTY - HIV/AIDS is a horrific disease that several individuals live with on a day to day basis. It has taken the lives of many too soon and that is why World AIDS Day is prevalent in bringing attention to this health catastrophe.
Approximately 500 people in Ingham County are living with this disease so in conjunction with this international campaign, the Ingham County Health Department held free HIV testing for all Ingham County residents.
"It is a way to raise awareness around HIV and it's also a way to celebrate the many medical advances that we have in HIV treatment and prevention in the last years," mentioned Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail.
Not only did the health department offer free testing, but they also provide free counseling and educational services as well.
According to Vail, in the U.S. 1 out of every 8 people are infected with HIV and are not aware of it.
"One of the important things about HIV is the earlier it's detected, the more quickly we can get all the appropriate medical treatment and counseling and education and case management around it so that people can live long and healthy lives with HIV," Vail stated.
When this disease was first discovered back in the 1980's, it was quickly known as a death sentence. However, because of the advances in medical technology it has assisted in prolonging a victims life.
As long as victims maintain a healthy lifestyle and seek the appropriate medical attention necessary, they can survive an entire life span.
"The antiviral medications that people are able to take to sustain themselves with an HIV infection actually almost bring their… what's called their 'viral load' (number of viruses in the body) to non-detectable levels and it reduces the risk of transmission," mentioned Vail.
Unfortunately, even though the advances in medicine is astonishing…this disease continues to be incurable once a person has been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS.
"Now its important to know we offer confidential testing and free or low cost testing all the time so really what this does is promote an increase…we're hoping to get more people in the door to really do what we already do," Vail stated.
The event took place at the health department from 8:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. and those tested received a free gift card.