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The importance of testing for HIV

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LAWTON, Okla._Friday across the nation, tens of thousands of people are being tested for HIV.

Friday is recognized as National HIV Testing Day. The virus causes AIDS and without treatment, the average survival time after infection is estimated to be 9 to 11 years. Doctor's say testing is important since nearly one in six people who have HIV, don't know they have it. That one-in-six contributes to about 50 percent of new HIV infections, including right here in Comanche County, which has the fifth highest rate in Oklahoma.

"A lot of people thought it's a death sentence where now medications have come a long way, and now there is a lot that can be done," said Sarah Corella, an RN at the Comanche County Health Department.

But you have to be tested first, to find out if you have HIV, especially if you're in a high risk group.

"We see the highest number of HIV in certain populations. The biggest one is men who have sex with other men, and then also IV drug users," said Corella.

There are different ways to test, but the health department draws blood and it's a fairly simple process. After a few days the patient should get the results of the blood work.

“I think the hardest part is just waiting for the results. I would say that is hard, especially if you're somebody that is at risk, it can be a little bit scary but once you know it can be a big relief,” said Corella.

The Centers for Disease Control says everyone ages 13 through 64 should know their status. Officials say test often, because if you do test positive, you want to know early.

"If they are tested and they are found out early, there is a really good outlook for them. People can live relatively normal lives, as long as it's caught early, there are a lot of interventions that can be done to help them have healthier outcomes and live fulfilling lives," explained Corella.

The Comanche County Health Department offers also offers free STD testing for gonorrhea, syphilis, and chlamydia.


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