The Rapidian

Planned Parenthood Offers Free HIV Testing June 22-26

Planned Parenthood of West and Northern Michigan offering free HIV testing, Monday-Friday, June 22-26, 2015 by appointment. Call (844) 316-4055 to schedule. This free testing opportunity is in recognition of National HIV Testing Day on June 27.

MICHIGAN — In recognition of National HIV Testing Day on June 27, Planned Parenthood of West and Northern Michigan (PPWNM) is encouraging men, women, and young people to get tested for HIV — and offering the public an opportunity to take the test for FREE!

In an effort to promote early detection and help people in the community remain healthy, all seven PPWNM health centers will be offering free HIV testing Monday–Friday, June 22–26, 2015, by appointment during regular business hours. PPWNM operates health centers in the following Michigan cities: Big Rapids, Grand Rapids, Marquette, Muskegon, Petoskey, Traverse City, and Wyoming. People interested in taking the free test should call (844)316-4055 to schedule an appointment. For the complete list of PPWNM health center locations, visit http://www.ppwnm.org/healthcenters.

“In the United States, more than 1.2 million people are living with HIV, and almost one in seven don't know they are infected. You can’t tell by looking at someone if they have HIV — the only way to know is to get tested,” said Vice President of Medical Services Bridget White.

National HIV Testing Day is a reminder that getting tested for HIV is an important step in both stopping the spread of HIV and taking care of our individual health. Not all health insurance plans cover HIV testing, so PPWNM’s Free HIV Testing Week is a great opportunity for everyone to take the test.

Rates of HIV remain a major concern in this country, particularly among young people and in specific communities.In the U.S., men who have sex with men, African Americans, and Latinos are disproportionately affected by HIV.Access to quality health care, resources, and information is a fundamental right for all people to reach their fullest potential. Our health should not depend on who we are or where we live. Planned Parenthood works to achieve health equity for all.

Each year, PPWNM provides more than 3,000 HIV tests, and Planned Parenthood health centers nationwide provide 700,000 HIV tests. PPWNM offers many preventive services in addition to HIV testing, including STD testing and treatment, family planning and birth control, well woman exams, cancer screenings, pregnancy testing, and more.

“Planned Parenthood provides affordable, convenient HIV testing and other sexual health services for millions of women, men, and young people across the country each year,” added White. “Our doors are open to everyone, and we’re here for any questions or concerns you might have.”

Getting tested for HIV is simply a basic part of taking care of your health and your body — and it’s easier than ever before:

• Getting tested for HIV is quick, simple, and painless. PPWNM offers the Rapid HIV test, which provides results in as fast as 20 minutes from just a simple finger poke.

• Not all medical checkups include routine HIV testing — so unless you ask to be tested, you can’t assume you have been.

• Some conversations may seem hard to have, but open communication with your partner is essential to staying healthy and stopping the spread of HIV.

You can take care of yourself and your partner by getting tested before you start having sex. “Once you know your status, there’s a lot you can do to protect your health, including practicing safer sex,” said White.

“And the sooner you know your status, the sooner you can get any treatment and information you might need, depending on the results. Early treatment can help prevent serious health problems down the line.”

HIV can be managed and HIV-positive individuals can live longer, healthier lives if they know their status, get into care, and stick with treatment. Getting tested is the first step to finding out if you have HIV.

June is Men’s Health Month, when men are encouraged to make their health a priority. Men can rely on Planned Parenthood for health services including STD testing and treatment, sex education and information to help you take charge of your sexual health, and free condoms. Men do not have to be embarrassed about asking questions of our sexual health experts. June is also Pride Month, and Planned Parenthood is proud to provide health services and information to the LGBTQ community.

PPWNM offers three free condoms every day, to anyone who stops in and asks. To promote Free HIV Testing Week, PPWNM is distributing free condoms at several of our community partner locations: Central District Cyclery (in GR), ‪Heartside Ministry (in GR), Pridefest GR (June 20) Right Brain Brewery (in Traverse City),‬ Muskegon Youth Summit (June 10), and several other locations in Muskegon: http://www.muskegonhealth.net/freecondoms.htm.

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