ELYRIA — The Chronicle-Telegram will serve as the testing site for the Lorain County AIDS Task Force for this year’s National HIV Testing Day.
As was the case last year, The Chronicle will make rooms available for private, confidential and anonymous testing conducted by the county’s HIV/AIDS task force. Testing will run 3 to 7 p.m. Wednesday and is free to the public.
To get tested, simply stop at the paper’s office on East Avenue — parking is available to the rear of the building in a lot behind the Lorain County Administration Building’s parking deck — and tell the receptionist you want to be tested.
The exams will be done with simple oral swab tests — called OraQuick — done in the front of the mouth on the top and bottom gum lines. Results come back in 20 minutes and are a 99 percent accurate measure of the presence of HIV. Counselors and volunteers will be on site to answer questions during the testing process.
This year’s testing will coincide with the annual campaign coordinated by the National Association of People with AIDS, which wants to encourage people of all ages to get tested. According to the National HIV Testing Day website, nearly 1.2 million people are living with HIV in the U.S., and almost one in five is unaware of being infected.
Getting tested is the first step to finding out your HIV status, said Ricky Lanza, executive director of the Lorain County AIDS Task Force.
“The latest statistics state that at least 23 percent of the people who have HIV don’t know it,” Lanza said. “It’s scary because that is how the disease spreads.”
Lanza said those who test positive need not worry because medical advances have made HIV as manageable as other chronic illnesses.
“As long as you take your medications and follow doctors’ recommendations, you can live a long life. That is what we tell people and tell them not to be scared,” Lanza said.
To further the testing effort, Lanza said the Lorain County AIDS Task Force is working to secure the right to test all inmates entering Lorain County Jail. Currently, the jail does not do HIV testing on its inmates because of lack of funding.
“But that is a huge population of the public that needs to be tested, and maybe with the state’s help, we will be able to do it,” Lanza said. “I like to tell people that anything is possible. The community will work together to make this happen.”
On average, the jail takes in 28 new inmates a day and could result in the task force doing fewer than 900 HIV tests a month, Lanza said.
In addition to the Lorain County AIDS Task Force, HIV testing will also be conducted on National HIV Testing Day by the Lorain City Health Department and the Lorain Urban Minority Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Outreach Program.
Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or email@example.com.