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Free at-home HIV tests for those living in Northcentral Pa.

From Tuesday, Dec. 1, to Friday, Dec. 11, AIDS Resource is giving away free at-home HIV tests to community members in its 10-county coverage area, according to a recent press release.

The goal of the campaign is to reach people in the comfort of their homes who are at-risk of acquiring HIV.

Stay-at-home orders and quarantining have limited AIDS Resource’s testing efforts, according to Kirsten Burkhart, agency executive director.

“It’s important for those at-risk of contracting HIV to know their status, but we also must do our part to keep people safe from the pandemic,” she said. “This initiative affords us the opportunity to do both.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many people choose to stay home to protect themselves from getting sick. To meet clients where they are, the organization has worked diligently to adjust its services to accommodate those at home.

Making at-home HIV tests available can reach more people who may not have been tested at all due to their location, quarantining or being anxious about getting tested.

The requirements for somebody to receive a test is they must be over the age of 18 years old, have participated in risky activities that could lead to HIV, and live in one of the counties in the organization’s coverage area. The following counties are in the coverage area: Cameron, Centre, Clearfield, Clinton, Elk, McKean, Lycoming, Potter, Snyder and Union.

Visiting aidsresource.com or calling the Williamsport office at 570-322-8448 are the two ways to request a test. After the request is submitted, a testing specialist will see if a test is right for them.

Kits will be mailed to their home by Priority Mail 24 hours after the request is submitted. Curbside pickup can also be arranged. Each kit has an OraQuick HIV test, information about AIDS Resource’s services and educational materials about HIV in English and Spanish.

The OraQuick test is an oral test; there is no blood involved. The test-taker will swipe the oral swab over their gums once and then place it in the test tube filled with liquid.

It will take 20 minutes for the results to develop. A free telehealth appointment is available if they would like somebody on the phone to walk them through the test or be on the phone for support.

Though HIV cannot be spread through saliva, HIV antibodies can be found there. The test will detect if there are HIV antibodies, which is a sign a person is HIV positive.

If the test reads positive, it is highly recommended they visit AIDS Resource or their primary care physician to be tested to verify the results. If the results are negative, an agency testing specialist will speak with them about HIV prevention.

For more information about AIDS Resource and to request a test, please visit aidsresource.com.

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