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HIV testing available Friday

The Selma Times-Journal

Although AIDS is not a curable disease, it is a livable one.

That is the message Selma AIDS Information Referral is promoting with HIV screenings Friday. HIV is the virus that causes AIDS.

Selma AIR’s efforts coincide with National HIV Testing Day. The National Association of People with AIDS began the day in 1995 as a way to promote awareness and help curb the spread of the disease.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta estimates 180,000 to 280,000 people nationwide are HIV-positive but are unaware of their status.

“The sole purpose of this is to engage with the communities to promote early diagnosis of HIV,” said Cedric Wherry, Selma AIR education specialist. “Out of 10 people that are HIV positive, the CDC estimates that one knows that they’re positive. That’s scary. So we want to break down the whole social stigma. People can live with this virus. It may be difficult, but people can live with it.”

People who have tests run Friday can have their results back in as little as 20 minutes, Wherry said.

Selma AIR is conducting testing with the help of the Dallas County Health Department.

There are two local sites, one at the Selma AIR office, 1432 Broad St., from 9 a.m. until noon.

People can also get tested at the Reformed Presbyterian Church, 627 Jeff Davis Ave., from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. People interested in testing can call Selma AIR at 872-6795.

Selma AIR recently sponsored a campaign called Barbers for Brothers/Salons for Sisters. The two-week contest enlisted the help of local barber and beauty shops to get as many clients as possible to get tested.

Thadeus Aaron of Giants barber shop on Jeff Davis won the contest, contributing to more than 48 total people that got tested in the two weeks.

According to the Alabama Department of Public Health 15,483 people in Alabama have been diagnosed with HIV or AIDS as of December 2007. Dallas County alone had a total of 195 of those cases.