By Richard Asinof
PROVIDENCE – The Miriam Hospital Immunology Center is now offering free testing for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, hospital officials announced on Nov. 29.
The service is offered on Friday afternoons from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. on a walk-in basis and no appointments or insurance are necessary.
The HIV testing is conducted via rapid test, which can provide results in 20 minutes. On-site confidential HIV counseling, risk reduction education and referrals are also available.
In addition, syphilis, gonorrhea, Chlamydia and hepatitis C testing are also offered free of charge.
More than 3,000 Rhode Islanders are infected with HIV/AIDS. Approximately 100 individuals contract the disease here each year. The vast majority of all HIV/AIDS cases in the state are among people over the age of 30.
Nationally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than 1.1 million people in the United States are living with HIV infection, and nearly one in five of those people are unaware of their infection.
“For a small state, HIV continues to have quite an impact, and now we’re seeing a rise in new cases of both HIV and STDs among certain groups of patients, which is concerning,” said Dr. Philip A. Chan, an HIV/AIDS specialist at The Miriam Hospital. “HIV and STD testing is a critical step in preventing the spread of these diseases, and we encourage all Rhode Island residents to take advantage of this free and confidential service so they can learn their status.”
“We’ve made significant progress when it comes to the treatment and management of HIV and, in fact, it can now be treated in a single pill in many people,” said Dr. Timothy P. Flanigan, an HIV/AIDS specialist at The Miriam Hospital. “However, patients can still experience serious complications of this disease, especially when HIV is diagnosed late. Knowing your status and getting testing at least once a year, particularly if you have multiple sexual partners, is critical.”