Mid-South: HIV Rates Among Young People Rising

(Memphis) It’s a deadly virus, but 20 percent of people don’t even know they have HIV.

Health workers hope people will get tested and learn their status because it’s National HIV Testing Day.

For the next three days, the Walgreens stores at Poplar and Cleveland, and in South Memphis and Frayser, are offering free HIV testing. There are also numerous other locations you can get tested. (See below)

Willette Hart says she got HIV living a life she has since left behind.

“I have been ten years clean off crack and I tell my story everywhere I  go,” said Hart.

She says with sober living and knowing her status, she’s been able to live a healthy and active life since her diagnosis in 2004.

“I take better care of myself and I eat right,” she said.

“We know if we can find people early we can get them into treatment,” said Mia Cotton, a prevention services coordinator for Friends for Life, a non-profit that provides HIV testing and resources for those infected.

Finding people who are HIV positive is what National HIV Testing Day is all about.

Cotton says if people know their status, like Willette, they can help prevent the spread of the virus and get the treatment they need.

“The test is rapid. We can do it in 20 minutes. And we can do it with oral fluid so we don`t have to stick anybody,” said Cotton.

Just 20 minutes to get results in a city ranked number five when it comes to the proportion of people newly infected with HIV.

Cotton says the largest group is young, gay, African-American men, but the number of young black women becoming infected is rapidly rising.

How many women? No one knows, because as Cotton says, “Right now in Tennessee, we have about 18 percent of folks who are infected with HIV and are unaware of their HIV status.”

Today, and every day, is a chance to find out by taking a quick test to let you know if it’s time to seek help.

“I am ten years clean today,” said Hart. “These are tears of joy.”

The HIV infection rate for 20- to 24-year-olds is increasing at an alarming rate, having grown 102.6 percent since 2011.

Mid-South youth are the fastest-growing age group reported with new HIV infections, according to the Shelby County Health Department.

Knowing one’s status, getting medical care and maintaining treatment will help those with HIV live longer, healthier lives, and also lowers the chances of passing HIV on to others.

Free HIV testing will be available through the following organizations:

Monday, June 24

  • Christ Community Health Services, Orange Mound Health Center

2569 Douglass Ave., Memphis, TN 38114

Testing will be available from 9 to 11 a.m. and 2 to 4 p.m.

Tuesday, June 25

  • Christ Community Health Services, Hickory Hill Health Center

5366 Winchester Road, Memphis, TN 38115

Testing will be available from 9 to 11 a.m. and 2 to 4 p.m.

Wednesday, June 26

  • Christ Community Health Services, University Health Center

1211 Union Ave., Memphis, TN 38104

Testing will be available from 9 to 11 a.m. and 2 to 4 p.m.

Thursday, June 27

  • Christ Community Health Services, Broad Avenue Health Center

2861 Broad Ave., Memphis, TN 38112

Testing will be available from 9 to 11 a.m. and 2 to 4 p.m.

  • Friends for Life – Free HIV Testing

Walgreens, 1359 Poplar Ave., Memphis, TN 38104

Testing will be available from 3 to 7 p.m.

  • Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital

Walgreens, 4155 S. Third St., Memphis, TN 38109

Testing will be available from 3 to 7 p.m.

  • Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital

Walgreens, 1130 S. Bellevue Blvd., Memphis, TN 38106

Testing will be available from 3 to 7 p.m.

  • Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital

Walgreens, 1489 Airways Blvd., Memphis, TN 38114

Testing will be available from 3 to 7 p.m.

Friday, June 28

  • Christ Community Health Services, Frayser Health Center

3124 North Thomas St., Memphis, TN 38127

Testing will be available from 9 to 11 a.m. and 2 to 4 p.m.

  • Christ Community Health Services, Third Street Health Center

3362 S. Third St., Memphis, TN 38109

Testing will be available from 9 to 11 a.m. and 2 to 4 p.m.

  • Friends for Life

Walgreens, 1359 Poplar Ave., Memphis, TN 38104

Testing will be available from 9 to 11 a.m. and 2 to 4 p.m.

  • Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital

Walgreens, 4155 S. Third St., Memphis, TN 38109

Testing will be available from 3 to 7 p.m.

  • Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital

Walgreens, 1130 S. Bellevue Blvd., Memphis, TN 38106

Testing will be available from 3 to 7 p.m.

  • Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital

Walgreens, 1489 Airways Blvd., Memphis, TN 38114

Testing will be available from 3 to 7 p.m.

Saturday, June 29

  • Christ Community Health Services

Southbrook Mall, 1212 E. Shelby Drive, Memphis, TN 38116

CCHS will host a booth at this event from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. HIV testing will be available.

  • Friends for Life

Walgreens

1359 Poplar Ave., Memphis, TN 38104

Testing will be available from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

  • Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital           

Walgreens, 4155 S. Third St., Memphis, TN 38109

Testing will be available from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

  • Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital

Walgreens, 1130 S. Bellevue Blvd., Memphis, TN 38106

Testing will be available from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

  • Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital

Walgreens, 1489 Airways Blvd., Memphis, TN 38114

Testing will be available from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

  • DUB Car Show

Cook Convention Center

255 N. Main St., Memphis, TN 38103

Testing will be available from 3 to 9 p.m.

Learn more about the Memphis Ryan White Program and its “Know Now. Live Longer.” campaign by visiting www.hivmemphis.org or by calling (877) HIV-KNOW [(877) 448-5669].

The project is funded as a result of grant awards from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Health Resources and Services Administration, and Shelby County Government.

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