June 27 marks National HIV Testing Day, which was first observed in 1995. The day is dedicated to highlighting the importance of testing, detecting, treating and preventing HIV infection. Free, no appointment needed HIV tests will be given throughout the day at pharmacies such as Walgreens at select locations and organizations including AIDS Delaware and CAMP Rehoboth.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), roughly one in seven people in the United States who have HIV are unaware of their status. Young people are typically most likely to not know they are HIV positive.
Salvatore Seeley, the health and wellness coordinator of CAMP Rehoboth, recommends getting tested at least once or twice a year depending on risk factors. He says that CAMP Rehoboth and other agencies in Delaware have been working hard to reach those who are afraid to get tested.
“The CDC puts out press releases, the Delaware Division of Public Health puts out press releases, people see it on Facebook or other social media, so it usually drives more people in for testing,” Seeley said. “We publicize it as much as we can, so we definitely have an increase of testing that day.”
Seeley says that CAMP Rehoboth has conducted about 500 tests per year since 2004. Last year, however, the number increased to 550. Seeley also mentioned that PrEP has changed how testing is done, with more and more people, especially young gay men, taking PrEP as an option and getting tested through their own medical providers.
“It only takes about 10 minutes for the test to be done,” Seeley said. “And then five minutes probably to do some paperwork and do a little discussion about risk and what brings a person in for testing.”
AIDS Delaware will offer free HIV tests on June 27 from 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. at 100 W. 10th St., Suite 315 in Wilmington. The organization will give the first 30 visitors a gift card. The Walgreens on N. Market Street in Wilmington will also provide free HIV testing from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. on June 27. Many places throughout Delaware, including CAMP Rehoboth, AIDS Delaware, the James W. Williams State Service Center in Dover and the Thurman Adams State Service Center in Georgetown, offer free testing year-round.