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Free HIV testing this weekend at Shuman Center
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The Coastal Health District will offer a confidential, free HIV testing Saturday at the Shuman Recreation Center in conjunction with National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.

It takes about 20 minutes to complete the oral swab test, said Sally Silbermann, public information officer and risk communicator for the Coastal Health District.

Anyone may come out for testing between 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

"Getting tested is crucial to preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS," Coastal Health District director Susan Alt said. "The HIV epidemic has not gone away, particularly in the African American population. In fact, HIV rates across the country are among the highest in African Americans, and that includes right here in the Coastal Health District. We hope that by offering free and confidential testing and education, we can begin to stem the tide on the spread of HIV in southeast Georgia."

Tests will be administered by Raphaella McCrary, a communicable disease specialist for the Coastal Health District.

"If it’s negative they’ll know that day," Silbermann said. "If it’s positive, it’s a preliminary positive and a confirmation specimen will be collected and sent to the lab."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated in July 2010 that more than 1 million people are living with HIV in the United States. About 21 percent of those people living with HIV are unaware of their infection, states the CDC website.

The site also states that African Americans are impacted the most by HIV and AIDS in the nation.

"While blacks represent approximately 12 percent of the U.S. population, they account for almost half — 46 percent — of people living with HIV in the U.S., as well as nearly half — 45 percent – of new infections each year. HIV infections among blacks overall have been roughly stable since the early 1990s," the site states.

This year marks the 11th year of the awareness day, according to the National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day website.

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