NDDoH encourages HIV awareness and promotes free testing on World AIDS Day

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BISMARCK, N.D. – The North Dakota Department of Health (NDDoH) joins with the world in recognizing Dec. 1, as World AIDS Day and reflects on the response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

World AIDS Day was first observed in 1988. The theme for World AIDS Day 2021 is “Ending the HIV Epidemic: Equitable Access, Everyone’s Voice.” Each year on this day, organizations and individuals across the world encourage HIV awareness and knowledge, speak out against HIV stigma and promote an increased understanding of the work underway to end the HIV epidemic in the U.S.

“We must remember that HIV has not gone away as treatment has gotten better and that people living with HIV continue to be stigmatized in our state. We are here to address and promote awareness and care for the citizens of North Dakota,” says Jason Grueneich, ambassador for the HIV advisory board for NDDoH. North Dakota is moving forward by bringing all citizens to the table to address care and prevention in our state.”

The Ending the HIV Epidemic in the U.S. plan focuses on four areas: diagnose, treat, prevent and respond. Increasing access to prevention strategies such as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is one key to reaching individuals who are at risk. Those living with HIV who have an undetectable viral load because they are on HIV treatment have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV sexually. With these prevention strategies the goal to end the HIV epidemic in the U.S. by 2030 can be accomplished.

“Everyone between the age of 13 and 64 should be tested for HIV at least once in their lifetime,”

Sarah Weninger, HIV prevention coordinator at the NDDoH. “Knowing your HIV status empowers individuals to access the prevention or care that they need.“

The NDDoH partners with several local partners to provide free HIV testing for those at-risk. A list of testing sites is available online at www.health.nd.gov/HIV/Testing.

In recognition of World AIDS Day Fargo Cass Public Health is holding confidential free rapid HIV and hepatitis C testing at the Harm Reduction Center (510 5 St N, Fargo) Dec. 1, from 10 a.m. -5 p.m. CST.

“When you know your HIV status you have access to treatment and resources for living well with HIV,” said Weninger. “Similarly, high-quality preventive services for people who are at-risk of HIV exposure help keep them HIV-negative such as PrEP are available.”

For more information on HIV, visit www.health.nd.gov/HIV. For more information on the Ending the HIV Epidemic in the U.S. visit https://www.hiv.gov/federal-response/ending-the-hiv-epidemic/overview or contact Sarah Weninger, NDDoH, at 701-328-2378.

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