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Free HIV/AIDS exams offered Saturday

By Linda Looney-Bond

lbond@news-daily.com

Area residents are urged to take advantage of free HIV/AIDS testing and education Saturday during National HIV Testing Day.

Free testing and workshops will be offered from 9 a.m., until 1 p.m., at the Higher Living Community Impact Center, located at 2450 Mt. Zion Parkway, Suite 400, in Jonesboro, according to the Minister William Hill, the facility's director.

"This Saturday, we'll have free, rapid HIV testing, which takes about five, maybe ten minutes to do -- at the most," said Hill. "You do the swab in the mouth - no needles, " he said.

Hill said results will be available within minutes - a marked improvement from the traditional means of testing. "The old method of testing used to be with the needles and drawing blood," he said. "The hospital would have to send it off, and normally, it would take anywhere from a week to two weeks to get the results back," he said.

In addition to testing, the event will include HIV/AIDS education workshops. Workshops will include information about HIV/AIDS awareness, treatment options, and removing the stigma that often is associated with the disease, Hill said.

The event is sponsored by AID Atlanta, in conjunction with the Georgia Department of Human Resources and the Clayton County Board of Health, according to Hill.

"The only way we can slow down the spread of this epidemic is for people to know their status," said Rick Cooper, health promotions coordinator for the Clayton County Board of Health.

Georgia ranked eighth in the United States for the reported rate of AIDS cases per 100,000 people in 2007, according to the Georgia Department of Human Resources.

"To help reduce the transmission of HIV/AIDS, the Division of Public Health encourages Georgians to do their part by getting tested and knowing their status," said Taka Wiley, a spokesperson for the Georgia Department of Human Resources, in a prepared statement.

For more information about the testing and workshops at the Higher Living Community Impact Center on Saturday, contact Minister William Hill at (678) 422-4787, or by e-mail at whill@higherliving.org.