Cupcakes and Conversation: Free HIV test

AIDS awareness day red ribbonAIDS Awareness Day red ribbon (public domain image)

Looking for a factual conversation about HIV and a free HIV test? Then Tuesday, September 25, is your chance to exchange information and ‘down’ a cupcake at the Marietta Public Health Center, 1650 County Services Parkway, Marietta — stop in any time from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Test results are available within 60 seconds and are strictly confidential. The focus is on getting tested and knowing if you have been infected with the HIV virus.

If your test is positive, Marietta Public Health Center’s staff can assist with counseling and the continuing care required for treating HIV. Cobb & Douglas’ public health providers share concern about the disproportionate impact of HIV and AIDS on gay and bisexual men.

This year’s program will honor National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. “We hope to help the community lose the stigma that gay and bisexual men experience,” says Karrie Pate, HIV Prevention Program Manager for the county’s public health system.

Pate adds, “One of our goals is to identify undiagnosed HIV infections and link those who are positive to the care and prevention services they need.”

In addition, the “Cupcakes and Conversation event is planned to encourage testing,” said Pate. Public health providers support such programs with understanding and education.

Not knowing you have HIV can be life-threatening for you and others. Of the 1.1 million people living with HIV in 2015 (the most recent U.S. data), one person out of seven was not aware of their infection, according to the latest numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

HIV diagnoses are not evenly distributed across states and regions, states CDC on its website. People in southern states accounted for more than half of new HIV diagnoses in 2016, while making up only 38 percent of the nation’s population.

There is no cure for an HIV infection at this time. However, current medications can dramatically improve the health of people living with HIV and help slow the progression from an HIV infection to AIDS. (AIDS is the late stage of HIV infection, when a person’s immune system is severely damaged and has difficulty fighting diseases and certain cancers.)

Although it’s not making today’s headlines, people are still dying of AIDS. Sadly, 19 people died of AIDS in Cobb County in 2017.

For more HIV information, call 770-514-2432.