Van Buren/Cass District Health Department offering free HIV testing in recognition of World AIDS Day

Published 1:16 pm Tuesday, November 30, 2021

SOUTHWEST MICHIGAN — In recognition of World AIDS Day, the Van Buren/Cass District Health Department will be offering free walk-in HIV testing Wednesday at the location in Lawrence. The clinic will be open from 9 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 4 p.m. These services will also be offered on Thursday at the location in Dowagiac. No appointment is needed.

World AIDS Day takes place on Dec. 1 every year.  According to health department officials, it is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, to show support for people living with HIV and to commemorate those who have died from an AIDS-related illness. Founded in 1988, World AIDS Day was the first-ever global health day. Despite the virus only being identified in 1984, more than 35 million people have died of HIV or AIDS-related illnesses, making it one of the most destructive pandemics in history.

“Getting tested is the only way to find out if you have HIV,” said Health officer Danielle Persky. “If you are living with HIV, starting treatment early means you can live a full, healthy and productive life.”

Public Health Nurses will be at the clinic to provide testing, answer questions, and connect local residents to appropriate services. The Van Buren/Cass District Health Department has traditional HIV blood tests to administer. No HIV test can detect HIV immediately after infection.

“If you think you’ve been exposed to HIV in the last 72 hours, talk to your health care provider about post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), right away. A Multiplex HIV test can usually detect the presence of an HIV infection as early as 17 to 30 days after exposure,” Persky said.

To make an appointment at another time, call (269) 621-3143. To learn more about HIV, go to aids.gov to take the HIV 101 lesson. For more information on World AIDS Day, visit worldaidsday.org/about.