Risk management: VNA offering free HIV testing Thursday in light of World AIDS Day | CraigDailyPress.com

Risk management: VNA offering free HIV testing Thursday in light of World AIDS Day

Bridget Manley

Crystal Baptist, a medical assistant with the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association, holds an HIV test at the VNA’s Craig office Monday. The VNA will offer free HIV testing from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday at its Craig office, 745 Russell St., and the Steamboat Springs office, 940 Central Park Dr., Suite 101, in recognition of World AIDS Day.





Crystal Baptist, a medical assistant with the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association, holds an HIV test at the VNA's Craig office Monday. The VNA will offer free HIV testing from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday at its Craig office, 745 Russell St., and the Steamboat Springs office, 940 Central Park Dr., Suite 101, in recognition of World AIDS Day.
Bridget Manley

If you go …

What: Free HIV testing

When: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday

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

—No appointment is necessary, and testing is open to all ages. For more information, call 824-8233 or 879-1632.

By the numbers …

1: Number of reported, newly diagnosed HIV cases in Moffat County from 2006-2010

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6: Number of reported, newly diagnosed HIV cases in Routt County from 2006-2010

Nearly 16,600: Coloradoans diagnosed with HIV between 1982 and 2010.

3 percent: The rate at which the total number of Coloradoans living with HIV increases every year.

Source: Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

Risk factors for contracting HIV:

• Injecting drugs or steroids and sharing equipment such as needles or syringes with others

• Having unprotected sexual intercourse

• Having sexual intercourse with multiple partners

• Diagnosis of or treatment for hepatitis, tuberculosis or a sexually transmitted disease like syphilis

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Quotable

"I think it's more important to probably stress … the people who are at risk for contracting the disease. When you look at it that way, that's a lot of people."

— Suzi Mariano, public information coordinator for the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association

The number of reported HIV cases in Moffat and Routt counties may be small, yet the risk is always there.

"It's not like we have this large population of people living with the disease here, but a lot of people are at risk for it," said Suzi Mariano, Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association public information coordinator.

In recognition of World AIDS Day, the VNA will offer free HIV testing from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday. Residents can get tested at the VNA office in Craig, 745 Russell St., or Steamboat Springs, 940 Central Park Dr., Suite 101.

Testing is open to all ages, and no appointments are required, Mariano said.

The test takes a small sample of blood from the finger, and results are available in about 15 minutes.

HIV is one of several sexually transmitted diseases for which the VNA offers testing. The agency's Craig and Steamboat offices offer tests for chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis and herpes by appointment on most days, Mariano said.

These tests, like other VNA services, are offered on a sliding scale based on patients' income.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends HIV testing for people who:

• Inject steroids or drugs and share needles or syringes with others.

• Have unprotected sex with one or multiple partners.

• Have been diagnosed or treated for hepatitis, tuberculosis, or sexually transmitted diseases like syphilis.

In addition to other risk factors, people can also be exposed to HIV if they come in contact with an infected person's bodily fluids.

"That could be anything," Mariano said. "That could be from a health care worker to someone who stops to help someone else who's hurt."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends testing for sexual partners before they have sex for the first time.

"For women who plan to become pregnant, testing is even more important," according to the agency's website. "If a woman is infected with HIV, medical care and certain drugs given during pregnancy can lower the chance of passing HIV to her baby."

Since the first case of AIDS was diagnosed in Colorado in 1982, nearly 16,600 Coloradans have been diagnosed with HIV, the virus that causes the disease, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

The number of Coloradans living with HIV increases at a rate of about 3 percent annually.

From 2006 to 2010, one newly diagnosed case of HIV was reported in Moffat County, while six were reported in Routt County, according to the department's 2010 fourth quarter report.

That's significantly lower than statistics for chlamydia, another sexually transmitted disease.

In 2010, 34 and 40 cases were reported in Moffat and Routt counties, respectively, according to the health department. No cases of gonorrhea or syphilis were reported in either county that year.

But, HIV statistics may not tell the whole story, Mariano said.

The statistics are based on reported HIV cases, but they don't include people who have the disease but have never been tested.

Another consideration is the number of people who are coming in and out of Moffat and Routt counties, "being that we have such a transient population and also a tourism-based population," Mariano said.

The local statistics may be elusive, but that doesn't make the disease any less a potential threat.

"I think it's more important to probably stress … the people who are at risk for contracting the disease," she said. "When you look at it that way, that's a lot of people."

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If you go …

What: Free HIV testing

When: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday

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

—No appointment is necessary, and testing is open to all ages. For more information, call 824-8233 or 879-1632.

By the numbers …

1: Number of reported, newly diagnosed HIV cases in Moffat County from 2006-2010

6: Number of reported, newly diagnosed HIV cases in Routt County from 2006-2010

Nearly 16,600: Coloradoans diagnosed with HIV between 1982 and 2010.

3 percent: The rate at which the total number of Coloradoans living with HIV increases every year.

Source: Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

Risk factors for contracting HIV:

• Injecting drugs or steroids and sharing equipment such as needles or syringes with others

• Having unprotected sexual intercourse

• Having sexual intercourse with multiple partners

• Diagnosis of or treatment for hepatitis, tuberculosis or a sexually transmitted disease like syphilis

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Quotable

“I think it’s more important to probably stress … the people who are at risk for contracting the disease. When you look at it that way, that’s a lot of people.”

— Suzi Mariano, public information coordinator for the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association

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