July 11, 2011
National HIV Testing Day was June 27, capping off an effort by health officials in Colorado to boost screenings there.
The Colorado AIDS Project (CAP) has stepped up its outreach, and its free testing center has served twice as many people during the past year, said Marketing Director Tim Schuetz. "If more people knew it only took 20-30 minutes, more people would come," he said of rapid HIV testing.
Schuetz said CAP's center now offers free testing every weekday by appointment and walk-in testing every Saturday, possibly another factor contributing to the increase in testing numbers this year.
Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains also has boosted its education and awareness efforts, said spokesperson Monica McCafferty. It tested 13,000 people in 2010, up from 8,000 in 2007.
Health departments across Colorado have eliminated or significantly reduced funding for HIV tests in recent years, said Ralph Wilmoth of the state health department's STI/HIV section. El Paso County had to shutter an STD clinic, he noted. Since 2008, the number of people tested at state sites has declined by roughly 1,800, he said.
For information on local HIV testing opportunities across the nation, visit www.aids.gov.