There is good news concerning the fight against the virus that causes AIDS.
Testing for the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, HIV, is easier and faster, treatment drugs - especially when administered early - offer much better outcomes, and education efforts have made people better informed concerning risk factors.
The bad news?
A "no, not me" mentality is still pervasive and not everyone understands that testing is the frontline against a virus that can affect, well, most anyone.
Risk factors are not limited to our own choices regarding sex and drug use but also to choices made by those we choose to be with - and their contacts, and their contacts, as well.
As ICAN Director of Education and Prevention Dan Mitton said this week, "All of a sudden you are high risk, and you don't know it. If you come into contact with risk factors, it doesn't hurt to be tested once."
As part of National HIV Testing Day, the Lee County Health Department will offer free testing at additional locations next week. Times and locations are:
- Today, June 27, 10 a.m. - noon, Lehigh Community Services, 201 Plaza Dr. # 3, Lehigh Acres
- Today, June 27, 9 a.m. - noon, All Souls Church, 14640 N. Cleveland Ave., North Fort Myers
- Friday, June 29, 4-7 p.m., Walgreens, 4204 Palm Beach Blvd., Fort Myers
In addition, the agency also offers free testing daily at its North Fort Myers clinic at 83 Pondella Road. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 1 to 5 p.m. Friday. Appointments are suggested but not required. Call 239-656-2542.
ICAN also offers free daily testing, with results available in as little as 15 minutes, at its offices at 2231 McGregor Blvd. in Fort Myers.
The rapid test, which uses just a finger-prick of blood, is offered Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Tuesdays and Fridays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
As with the Health Department, walk-ins are welcome, but a phone call ahead, to 239-337-2391, is recommended.
It doesn't hurt to be sure. We can't say the same about the alternative.
Consider it preventative medicine.
- Citizen editorial