March 7, 2013
In honor of National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, the Louisa County Health Department is hosting free, confidential HIV testing to area residents on Monday, March 11. The day’s theme is “Share Knowledge, Take Action,” and encourages everyone to take action in the fight against HIV/AIDS and raise awareness of its impact on women and girls. Today, women represent a larger share of new HIV infections than they did earlier in the epidemic, with nearly 280,000 women living with HIV/AIDS in the United States. The Louisa County Health Department’s Clinic Services Building is located at 540 Industrial Drive, Louisa, VA (540) 967-3703. The March 11 clinic is from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and no appointment is necessary.
As of December 2011, 23,808 Virginians were known to be living with HIV, and women and girls comprised 26% (6,276) of cases. In the Thomas Jefferson Health District (TJHD), which includes the city of Charlottesville and Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa and Nelson counties, an estimated 460 residents are living with HIV and 137 of which are females. An estimated 4,300 Virginians do not know they have HIV. “It is important that everyone know their HIV status,” says Nick Mattsson, Health Counselor with the Thomas Jefferson Health District. “Studies show that when people find out they are living with HIV, they take steps to protect their own health and the health of their partners.”
The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 be tested for HIV at least once. Testing once a year (or more frequently) is recommended for people at greater risk; these include individuals with multiple sexual partners, men who have sex with men, or injection drug users. The CDC also recommends that pregnant women get tested early in their pregnancy to prevent transmission of HIV to a baby.