Knox County Reaches Out to Minorities for HIV Testing

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Knoxville (WVLT) - The annual National HIV Testing Day campaign produced by the National Association of People with AIDS tries to encourage people at risk to receive voluntary HIV counseling and testing.

CDC estimates 180 to 280 thousand people nationwide are HIV positive, but unaware of their status.

The Knox County Health Department is trying to reach out to minority populations, which are disproportionately affected by HIV.

"In Knox County, we have about a thousand current cases of people who are positive for HIV,” says Ranee Randby from Knox County Public Health.

Those are the people who are aware of their status.

CDC estimates nearly one-quarter of the people living with HIV in the US are unaware they have the virus.

Those are the people public health officials are trying to reach out to on this national HIV testing day, now in its 13th year.

In Knox County, communities at increased risk of HIV infection include African-Americans and Latinos, particularly women.

"Many times they don't want to tell their partner no, not without a condom,” says Randby.

Counseling and testing enables people with HIV to take steps to protect their own health and that of their partners, and helps people who test negative get the information they need to stay uninfected.

This year, Knox County health officials are offering an incentive for people to get tested.

"For the first 100 people to visit and participate in the free testing at our Hardy Clinic, which is in East Knoxville, we gave away a free $10 Kroger gift certificate,” Randby says.

The tests are free and confidential on this day and everyday at the Knox County main clinic on Dameron Avenue.

The Kroger gift cards were purchased through a grant from the Tennessee Conference Community Development Corporation and the Face Coalition.

More than 80 people were tested, and received a gift card, at the Hardy Clinic in East Knoxville and several others made appointments for a later date.

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