HIV testing encouraged by Ryan White Outreach Team

By: Trishna Begam Email
By: Trishna Begam Email

News 12 This Morning / Monday, June 18, 2012

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- A $3.4 million three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services helps provide Georgia Health Sciences with the tools to diagnose people with HIV.

During the month of June, the Ryan White Outreach Team is encouraging you to get tested and update your status.

It's a tiny packet that could hold big health results.

"We have a pretty big problem here, it's not something you see every day," said Thompson, the Community Outreach specialist with the Ryan White Team.

Thompson is with the Ryan White Outreach Team at GHSU. He says his clinic treats nearly 1,300 patients for HIV.

"The Augusta area tends to move between third and second in the state outside of Atlanta," he said.

Thompson himself was diagnosed in 1989 with the virus.

"When I was diagnosed in 1989, I thought I'd have five years, maybe 10," he said.

A lot has changed since then -- with rapid testing, a quick swab and a few minutes will give you a positive or negative result for HIV.

"Twenty minutes, a mouth swab and no needles. You know your result," Thompson said. "So they don't have to wait for weeks like they used to, to find out what's going on."

The fund from a federal grant also helps ensure patients get the treatment they need, even if they don't have insurance.

"The new medicine now have fewer side effects, fewer pills in fact, patients take one pill one time a day and they're done," Thompson said.

New treatments help people like Thompson lead normal lives. Thompson says not enough people always want to get tested.

"You shouldn't wait or get tested once a decade and just consider yourself OK," he added.

Thompson wants everyone to take the simple test at least once a year, and with most infections spreading through needles, razors or certain body fluids, no one is immune.

"It's something that pretty much all of us do, something that exposes us to the virus during the course of our life. That's why it's important everyone make sure," Thompson said.

Since early detection is key, he is hoping during this month's National Testing Day, more of you will take the test. National Testing day is on June 27. You can click here for times and locations.


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