Stephens Media Hawaii
The Hawaii Island HIV/AIDS Foundation is offering confidential rapid HIV testing this week on the Big Island. This free service is being offered in observance of National HIV Testing Day.
Testing will be done from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. today at Leleiwi Beach Park in Hilo. On Friday, testing will happen from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at Mooheau Park Bandstand downtown, and from 1-3 p.m. at St. Jude’s Episcopal Church in Ocean View.
Those interested may also visit HIHAF’s offices in the Shipman Business Park in Keaau from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. in the Pines Plaza in Kailua-Kona.
HIHAF Executive Director Misty Pacheco encourages everyone to know their status so they can take greater precautions to protect themselves and their loved ones. She warns HIV doesn’t discriminate, and those who have had sex should get tested. People who engage in risky behaviors, such as having multiple partners, injecting drugs, having male-to-male sex or having unprotected sex, should have regular testing. With infection, it can take up to three to six months for HIV antibodies to develop, she added.
As of Dec. 31, 2011, there were 2,425 known HIV-positive people in Hawaii, including 216 on the Big Island, Pacheco said. At this time, there’s no cure, but HIV and AIDS can be prevented and treated.
Participants who receive a positive result, which is preliminary, during this week’s testing will need to do a second test involving a blood draw that’s sent away for laboratory confirmation. If confirmed positive, that information is sent to the state Department of Health, but remains confidential, Pacheco said.
For more information, call HIHAF at 982-8800 or 331-8177. Also visit hihaf.org.