Crystal Baptist, a medical assistant with the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association, holds an HIV test at the VNA’s Craig office in late November 2011, shortly before the VNA offered free HIV testing in recognition of World AIDS Day. The VNA’s offices in Craig, 745 Russell St., and Steamboat Springs, 940 Central Park Drive, Suite 101, will offer another round of free HIV tests from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. June 27 in honor of National HIV Testing Day.

File Photo

Crystal Baptist, a medical assistant with the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association, holds an HIV test at the VNA’s Craig office in late November 2011, shortly before the VNA offered free HIV testing in recognition of World AIDS Day. The VNA’s offices in Craig, 745 Russell St., and Steamboat Springs, 940 Central Park Drive, Suite 101, will offer another round of free HIV tests from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. June 27 in honor of National HIV Testing Day.

VNA to offer free HIV testing June 27

Report: Virus numbers in Colorado remain stable

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Testing:

What: Free drop-in HIV tests

When: 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. June 27

Where: Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association’s Craig office, 745 Russell St., and Steamboat Springs office, 940 Central Park Dr., Suite 101

— Tests take about 15 minutes. For more information, call the Craig office at 824-8233 or the Steamboat Springs office at 879-1632.

The Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association will offer free drop-in HIV tests June 27 in conjunction with National HIV Testing Day.

The tests, which take about 15 minutes, will be offered from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the VNA’s Craig office, 745 Russell St., and the agency’s Steamboat Springs office, 940 Central Park Dr., Suite 101.

A small blood sample will be drawn and mixed with a testing solution to determine the results. Participants will learn their results immediately, said Gisela Garrison, director of the VNA’s Community Health Center.

“Even if the test is positive, it does not mean the person has AIDS,” she said. “It only means that the person has been exposed to the virus.”

It's important anyone who has been exposed to blood or semen get tested to prevent the spread of HIV and to change their lifestyle accordingly if they test positive, Garrison said.

Heterosexual couples are most likely to spread the disease, although it's a common misconception homosexuals are primary carriers, she said.

This month’s free testing follows a similar event the VNA offered last year.

Nearly 30 people in Moffat and Routt counties turned out for free HIV tests offered in December 2011 in honor of World AIDS Day.

According to the December 2011 Colorado HIV Surveillance quarterly report, 376 newly diagnosed cases of HIV were reported in Colorado last year. No new cases were reported in Moffat or Routt counties.

From 2007 to 2011, one case of HIV was reported in Moffat County and four were reported in Routt County, according to the report, prepared by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

More than 16,900 people in Colorado have been diagnosed with HIV since the first diagnosed case in 1982.

The course of the virus has remained stable in the state, which averaged 414 new cases per year between 2007 and 2011, the health department reported.

The report estimates half of the HIV-infected population in Colorado and the nation will be older than 50 by 2015.

Currently, 45 percent of the state’s residents living with HIV are 50 or older, due largely to the “effective and widely available” nature of HIV treatments, according to the report.

AIDS diagnoses, as well as deaths attributed to HIV and AIDS, have dropped significantly since highly active antiretroviral therapy became widely available in 1996, according to the report.

Garrison said residents who miss the test June 27 can come to the clinic and request HIV screenings.

For more information, call the Craig office at 824-8233 or the Steamboat Springs office at 879-1632.

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