Walgreens will offer free HIV testing Thursday through Saturday at 31 locations in the five boroughs in honor of National Testing Day on Saturday.
Walgreens is partnering with the nonprofit Greater Than AIDS, local health departments and local AIDS service organizations. For a list of the locations, go to greaterthan.org.
Participants can take either a blood test, which gives results in about 60 seconds, or a cheek swab, which gives results in about 30 minutes. Greater Than AIDS director Robbyn Kistler said both tests are accurate and are done based of the patient's preference.
If a person tests positive, he or she will be given treatment care options by the testers. The patient will have follow-up visits with healthcare providers and will meet with doctors who will confirm the test.
Kistler called testing "critical," since people diagnosed with HIV can "expect a much healthier outcome themselves" as well as have a pretty normal life.
"We don't need to be afraid of people living with HIV," Kistler said. "You can have a loving relationship with a person living with HIV."
There 1.2 million people infected with HIV in the U.S., and 1 in 7 are unaware they are infected. The CDC recommends everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 be tested at least once, and those with a higher risk (such as intravenous drug users, victims of sexual assault, those who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant and sexually active gay and bisexual men) should be tested repeatedly. If you have been exposed to HIV in the very recent past, another test within six months is recommended.