PRIDE to host free HIV testing Oct. 13

To raise awareness of HIV in Latino/Hispanic communities PRIDE is hosting a free HIV testing in honor of the National Latinx AIDS Awareness Day on Oct. 13 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m in Wichita I & II. The free testing is open to students, staff and faculty.

“The purpose of hosting an AIDS awareness day is to provide an opportunity to educate the community about HIV and AIDS and hopefully to fight the stigma that surrounds it,” Christopher Cruz, member of PRIDE and theater performance junior, said.

Though this isn’t the first time the 50-member organization offered a free HIV testing booth, this year they are honoring the National Latinx AIDS Awareness day in an effort to reach Latino/Hispanic communities and encourage people to know their status.

“Everyone should get tested, no matter who you are. It is important to know your status so that sex can feel safe. We are honoring National Latinx AIDS Awareness day in order to reach Latino/Hispanic communities, promote HIV testing, and provide HIV prevention information and access to care,” Cruz said.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 1.1 million people ages 13 and older are living with an HIV infection, and 166,000 of them are unaware of their diagnosis.

President of PRIDE and science education sophomore Jesse Tidwell said he hopes for people to take advantage of the free testing, the confidentiality it comes with and the contentment their results can bring.

“This will allow people to get tested without worrying about the cost of their parents finding out,” Tidwell said. “Smiles and happiness is what I hope for them to leave with.”

According to the CDC, someone diagnosed with HIV and treated before the disease is far advanced can live nearly as long as someone who does not have HIV. Hence, Cruz feels that it is imperative that one feels comfortable in getting tested regularly.

“I hope people can feel comfortable in getting tested regularly,” Cruz said.

National Latinx AIDS Awareness Day is observed each year on Oct. 15 to increase awareness of the impact of HIV/AIDS on the Hispanic/Latino population in the United States. The NLAAD campaign promotes HIV testing and prevention, and provides information on access to care to Hispanic/Latino communities across the nation.