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Monday, December 2, 2013 - 8:55pm
El Paso, Texas (KDBC) — World AIDS day is a day meant to raise awareness about the epidemic.
In El Paso, AIDS is a huge concern.
The city is the sixth biggest in Texas and it also ranks sixth in the state when it comes to people diagnosed with HIV.
The number of infected Hispanic women has increased over the years and although there is no cure for HIV and AIDS, much progress has been made with research and testing.
A test that once took weeks for a result now provides an answer in just 20 minutes.
"It’s a scary, scary disease," said Roxy Trujillo, went to the Premiere Cinemas location to take her HIV test.
Trujillo said this was not her first test, and it won't be her last.
Even though the subject is touchy, she said people shouldn't be afraid to get tested for HIV.
"I think AIDS is very important, there are a lot of people who are afraid to talk about the subject,” she said. “But once people voice their opinion, it’s really good for other people to see that you shouldn't be afraid to get HIV tested.”
On Monday, several clinics and organizations offered free testing around the borderland.
"It’s a completely preventable disease,” said Estela Reyes, PIO for Centro de Salud Familiar La Fe Clinic. “There’s no reason anyone today should get HIV.”
Reyes adds she has seen more Hispanic women test positive with this disease and said there are easy ways to prevent HIV.
"All you have to do is protect yourself,” said Reyes. “Use a condom, practice abstinence, do your part to protect yourself and the ones you love."
In El Paso the number of women infected with HIV is lower than the national average.
There are 233 cases in the borderland for women and 1,591 men who have contracted the disease.
"1 in 5 sitting in any room doesn’t know they are HIV positive,” said Dr. Cindy jay, Case Manager for the International Aids Empowerment. “Know your status that's the best and easiest way to stop the progression of the HIV transmission."
According to Dr. Jay, HIV isn’t necessarily transmitted sexually nor is it a death sentence.
"This is merely an illness that could happen to anyone,” said Dr. Jay. “This is not a terminal illness if you know your status and you take your medication. So the idea that someone has been doing something particularly naughty or bad, those stigmas should no longer be there.”
Trujillo said the test is not only fast and easy, but it could also be a life saver.
“I heard someone say I could never do that but it’s better to know than find out during your last stages,” said Trujillo. “It’s a terrible and it’s a sad disease."
Even though today was the only day free services were going to be offered throughout the city, there are also other places that also offer free HIV testing year round.
We Care as well as International Aids Empowerment offer free testing Monday through Friday.
There are also pretest counseling as well as posttest counseling that can help those who may be infected.
Here’s a list of places you can contact.
We Care: 915-351-2198
International Aids Empowerment: 915-590-2118
El Paso Health Department STD Clinic: 915-772-1200
La Fe HIV Clinic: 915-772-3366
UMC Health Services: 915-532-5454
The M Factor: 915-351-0969