NewsCovering Kentucky


Lexington hosts several free test sites for National HIV Testing Day

Posted at 1:07 PM, Jun 27, 2024

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — HIV, which can cause AIDS, is still prevalent more than forty years after its discovery, and that is why testing for the virus was given its own day on Thursday across the country.

“The importance is in the awareness,” said Mark Johnson, a program coordinator with Kentucky HIV/AIDS. “Testing and getting folks treatment because they no longer have to pass this on."

Lexington participated in Thursday’s National HIV Testing Day, offering several sites around town, which provided free and confidential tests to anyone who wanted one.

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“This was not mandatory,” Johnson said of those he works with as a Case Manager for residents at the St. James Place Apartments. “I’m pleased with the turnout,” he continued.

Gift cards were given out to those who took the test, which added some incentive. But in reality, the stigma associated with this virus four decades ago is no longer as damaging. Neither is the virus itself, because when detected and treated, the medication can prevent HIV from becoming the deadly form of AIDS. An additional measure can prevent the spread of the disease from person to person.

“PrEP is the medication that will block the virus from spreading to another person,” said RJ Stone with AVOL of Lexington, which organized today’s testing. “If you’re on PrEP if you have HIV it’ll kill the virus before it replicates,” Mr. Stone added.

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That alone adds another great reason for being tested.

“If we can fight the stigma, then we can get everybody tested and then we can end the virus. It’s a big circle of things,” Stone said.

“We’re still working on that,” Johnson added. “People are still afraid, but the stigma is changing. It’s work in progress."

Much of that work was being done today all around town and the nation.