Frederick County Health Department Recognizing World AIDS Day Dec. 1st.

It offers free HIV/AIDS  testing Tuesdays & Fridays.

Frederick, Md (KM) This Friday, December 1st is the 35th anniversary of World AIDS Day. “So World AIDS Day is a day to remember how much testing, treatment and prevention have progressed. We honor our loved ones who perished because of this disease. We continue to come together to end this epidemic one test at a time,” says Becky Coyle, Coordinator of Special Programs for the Frederick County Health Department’s HIV program. HIV is the virus that cause AIDS.

AIDS, which was first detected in the 1980’s, was deadly because  it had no cure. But now there are treatments that can help a person with HIV/AIDS, live as close to a normal life as possible.

Coyle says there’s been a lot of progress when it comes to treatments for people with HIV/AIDS. “We have progressed from handfuls of pills multiple times a day to taking just one pill a day. Now there is an injectable  treatment that you can take every other month as opposed to a pill every day,” she says.

But despite the progress, Coyle says the stigma of HIV/AIDS still remains. “Although we’re making great progress with treatment, it’s still very highly stigmatized. At-risk populations are hesitant to seek testing and remain in care due to the stigma associated with HIV,” she says.

It’s important to end this stigma associated with HIV/AIDS. “Until we normalize routine testing, and recognize that this is a chronic illness, there’s still work to be done surrounding stigma. Together, we can end HIV,” says Coyle.

The Frederick County Health Department offers free, walk-in HIV/AIDS testing at its offices at 350 Montevue Lane on Tuesdays, and Fridays from 9;00 AM until 3:00 PM. These tests are anonymous and no appointment is necessary. “For people who cannot come during those hours, they can call the Health Department and schedule an appointment. Or we’re always out in the community so they can come say ‘hi’ while we’re out there,” Coyle says.

Call 301-600-1733 for more information on HIV/AIDS.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1.2-million people  in the United States have HIV, and about 158,000 are living with the virus and don’t know it. The Health Department says more than 500 people in Frederick County are currently living  with HIV.

By Kevin McManus