The importance of testing for HIV hits a high point this week as Thursday is observed as National HIV Testing Day. People of all ages are encouraged to "Take the test, take control."
HIV is a chronic condition that can be treated, although not cured. It is treated with a combination of antiviral drugs. Even without symptoms, a person can pass an HIV infection on to others. Almost everyone with untreated HIV will develop AIDS. In the United States, it's estimated that 1.2 million people are living with HIV, but almost one in five don't know they are infected with the virus.
Local events offering free HIV testing include:
• Diverse Banquet Hall, 7202 Kelly St., Homewood, noon to 4 p.m.: HIV testing (20-minute results), hot dogs, chips, cold drinks, educational materials, entertainment and free gifts.
• Uncommon Grounds, 380 Franklin Ave., Aliquippa, noon to 7 p.m.: HIV testing, food, music and more.
• Community Health Fair, corner of Penn Avenue and Whitfield Street outside East Liberty Presbyterian Church, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.: Free testing including HIV, cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes.
• Central Outreach Health Fair, AUBA Plaza, 2700 Centre Ave., Hill District, noon to 4 p.m.: Free testing including HIV, cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes.
• Zion Baptist Church, 1300 Locust St., McKeesport, noon to 3 p.m.: HIV testing and book signing with Lou Anne Coward ("Unexpected Events").
In addition, the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force offers free HIV testing Sunday through Friday at its East Liberty office, 5913 Penn Ave.; no appointment is necessary. Other Pittsburgh testing locations can be found at www.patf.org. To find HIV testing sites by ZIP code, go to www.hivtest.org.