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Free HIV testing offered in Juneau

Quick swab results available in most cases

Posted: Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Five Juneau clinics will offer free HIV testing today, as part of the 15-year-old National HIV Testing Day.

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The Alaskan Hotel, Valley Medical Care and Juneau Urgent Care will offer a limited number of first-come, first-serve free oral HIV rapid tests. The Juneau Public Health Center and SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium will do free blood tests.

National HIV Testing Day - held June 27 every year - was started 15 years ago by the National Association of People with AIDS (www.napwa.org). The United Way gave the Alaskan Aids Assistance Association a $3,000 grant to purchase condoms and the supplies for today's rapid tests.

National HIV Testing Day

• Free oral HIV rapid testing - (first-come, first-serve until tests last) 11 a.m.-3 p.m., Alaskan Hotel, 167 South Franklin St. (also offering blood testing) ; 5-7 p.m., Valley Medical Care, 3220 Hospital Dr., No. 100; 8 a.m.-11 a.m., Juneau Urgent Care, 8508 Old Dairy Rd.

• Free blood-testing only - 11 a.m.-3 p.m., Juneau Public Health Center, 3412 Glacier Highway; 9 a.m.-4 p.m., SEARHC, 3245 Hospital Dr.

• Movie night - "Pandemic: Facing AIDS," 8 p.m. today, Silverbow Inn, 120 Second St. Free.

• For more information - www.alaskanaids.org or call 586-6089; www.napwa.org; www.hivtest.org.

Unlike many HIV tests, which can take two to three weeks for results, the OraQuick Rapid HIV-½ Antibody Test offers results in about 20 minutes.

The rapid test was approved by the FDA in 2004 and is more than 99 percent accurate. It basically consists of a swab of the upper and lower outer gums to gather OMT, or oral mucosal transudate. The specimen is then placed in a solution.

It's possible to have a false-positive. But if anyone turns up positive, they will be given a mandatory confirmatory blood test.

"Hopefully we'll run out of tests, and we'll have no negatives, but people will know their status," said Dolly England of the Alaskan Aids Assistance Association. "That would be the ultimate goal.

"If we do have positives, then we'll know who the positives are, so they won't infect other people," she said. "The goal is to get as many people as tested as possible."

If the event goes well, AAAA hopes to offer more rapid resting in the future.

Today's free anonymous testing is by walk-in only. If the rapid oral tests run out, people can still get free HIV blood tests at the Juneau Public Health Center.

• Contact Korry Keeker at 523-2268 or korry.keeker@juneauempire.com



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