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Free HIV, STD testing during December to bring awareness of World AIDS Day


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World AIDS Day is December 1. | Courtesy

IDAHO FALLS — Free HIV and STD testing will be available throughout the month of December in recognition of World AIDS Day on Dec. 1.

To show support and raise awareness about HIV/AIDS, Eastern Idaho Public Health (EIPH) joins with Breaking Boundaries in hosting the event. Members of the community can take part in the confidential rapid HIV testing plus STD testing for things such as chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis.

“It’s important to know your status because with knowledge there’s power,” EIPH Spokeswoman Mimi Taylor said.

A person can be exposed to the human immunodeficiency virus and other sexually transmitted infections by having unprotected sex or sharing syringes and needles. It is spread through contact with blood, breast milk of an infected person, semen and vaginal fluids.

Once a person has HIV, they will always have it. The virus can also lead to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, known as AIDS.

“With new and evolving treatment possibilities, the sooner you can be tested and diagnosed, the sooner we can start treatment and make it so you have a more positive health outcome,” Taylor said.

The schedule for free HIV/STD testing in December. | Courtesy Eastern Idaho Public Health

The event is one of three free testing opportunities that are typically put on during the year. There’s also testing in April for National STD Awareness Month and June for National HIV Testing Day that takes place on June 27.

“It is recommended that everyone gets tested for HIV at least once in their lifetime, more frequently if recommended by a health care provider,” EIPH Nurse Manager Nikki Sayer said in a press release. “Detecting HIV, like other diseases, can lead to better health outcomes if found early.”

Along with the December testing, the AIDS Memorial Quilt will be showcased to the public for free at Elks Lodge (640 E. Elva in Idaho Falls). The quilt is a memorial to those who passed on from AIDS-related causes.

“In the concept of a patchwork quilt, when they’re all bound together (the patches) it brings unity that it’s all part of a bigger epidemic,” Taylor said about the disease.

The dates to see the display run from Dec. 3-4 from 12 p.m.-8 p.m. and Dec. 5 from 12 p.m.-3 p.m. As for the testing, it begins Dec. 6 and wraps up Dec. 19. Those interested in being tested are encouraged to call and schedule an appointment.