On June 27th each year, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) observe National HIV Testing Day (NHTD), a day to emphasize and encourage HIV testing.
"Everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 should get tested for HIV at least once as part of routine healthcare," said Interim Health Director James McDonald, MD, MPH. "People with certain ongoing risk factors — such as having more than one sex partner since their last HIV test or having sex with someone whose sexual history they don't know — should get tested annually. And some sexually active people may benefit from more frequent testing. Not knowing is not knowing. Get tested so you know your status."
This year's National HIV Testing Day theme is "HIV Testing is Self-care." Self-care is defined by the World Health Organization as "the ability of individuals, families, and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and to cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a healthcare provider."
According to the CDC, 13% of the estimated 1.2 million people in the U.S. living with HIV today are not aware of their status. Early diagnosis and treatment are vital to preserving health and preventing transmission.
Some of RIDOH's funded community partner agencies are holding testing events for National HIV Testing Day.
- June 25th: AIDS Care Ocean State will be offering free, rapid HIV and Hepatitis C testing, free condom distribution and informational pamphlets at the first West Warwick Pride event at the West Warwick Civic Center from noon until 4 p.m. - June 27th: AIDS Care Ocean State will be at Walgreens at 533 Elmwood Ave., Providence, from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. offering testing, free condom distribution, and informational pamphlets. Walgreens and Greater Than AIDS, a public information initiative of KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation), are teaming up with health departments and community organizations in more than 250 cities, including Providence, to host the largest coordinated National HIV Testing Day (NHTD) event in the nation. - June 27th: Project Weber/RENEW will be offering free HIV testing at its drop-in centers, located at 124 Broad Street, Pawtucket and 640 Broad Street, Providence, as well as at the Amos House Block Party, 460 Pine Street, Providence from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. $10 gift cards are available for people getting tested.
Separately, RIDOH has created a Testing 1-2-3 program to help Rhode Islanders get tested for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) without a trip to a doctor's office. With the TESTING 1-2-3 program, RIDOH has made HIV and STI testing as easy as possible in three steps:
1. Complete the online form. 2. Go to the clinical laboratory you have chosen (note: this is not a free service). 3. Results of the tests will be sent to you via e-mail.
The physician's order is automatically generated and sent to the clinical lab that the person requests on the form. For more information about Testing 1-2-3, visit https://www.testing123ri.com. For information in Spanish, visit https://bit.ly/pruebas123RI. Rhode Islanders interested in at-home HIV testing may request an in-home HIV test kit online through AIDS Project Rhode Island at https://aidsprojectri.org/get-tested/at-home/
As required under the Affordable Care Act, HIV screening is covered by health insurance. For uninsured people, free testing is available at many community health centers and other locations. Visit health.ri.gov/hiv and health.ri.gov/sti to learn more. For information in Spanish, visit health.ri.gov/vih and health.ri.gov/ets. Hours and locations for free, confidential HIV and Hepatitis C testing services can also be found on the websites of AIDS Care Ocean State, AIDS Project Rhode Island, and Project Weber/RENEW to learn about free testing hours.
Free condoms are available from RIDOH to anyone in Rhode Island. To order free condoms delivered by mail, visit health.ri.gov/findcondoms. You may also call the Rhode Island Department of Health for more information and testing locations at 401-222-5960.