Thursday, June 24, 2010

Pgh Task Force to Hold AIDS Testing Event

In observance of National HIV Testing Day on Sunday, the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force will hold the East End Community Health Day this Friday at the East Liberty Presbyterian Church.

The Allegheny County Health Department will have a van at the event to do HIV and STD testing, as well as other health screenings.

PATF Executive Director Kathi Boyle says most HIV-positive Pittsburghers get the virus through unsafe sex, not via needle-sharing or blood transfusions.

Boyle says HIV/AIDS remains a major issue, particularly in the African-American community. She says gay African-American young men are at high risk for HIV infection. Boyle adds that HIV/AIDS is the primary cause of death for African-American women aged 25-34.

“Women are getting infected and they aren’t getting into care. They don’t get themselves tested. Traditionally, women are busy taking care of families and they’re the last to take care of themselves, and so when they finally find out, they’re so sick that they die from HIV and AIDS, and that doesn’t have to happen.”

Older gay white men are also at increased risk, says Boyle.

But she says many treatment options are available in Pittsburgh.

“It’s possible to get medication without having to pay anything for that if you don’t have insurance, and you can get the care without insurance. We really want people to understand that HIV is not a death sentence any longer, if they get into care.”

The East End Community Health Day will run from noon to 3 p.m. Friday. Screenings are confidential and anonymous, as mandated by Pennsylvania law.

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