Health Department to offer free STD tests

SPRING HILL – The Florida Departments of Health in Hernando and Pasco counties have partnered to offer free HIV, Hepatitis A, B, C, and Syphilis testing in a few weeks.

The Pasco World AIDS Day Committee Inc. also worked in conjunction with the two health departments to help provide the free tests in recognition of National HIV Testing Day on June 27.

The testing will be provided by the Mobile Medical Van at Advanced Auto Parts at 15826 County Line Road in Spring Hill. No registration is required.

Free food, give-aways and resource information will be provided, and those tested can enter to win a free oil change and tire rotation.

Advanced Auto Parts said they allow the county to use their parking lot for various activities and that the health departments are funding the incentives.

Nearly 1.2 million people are living with HIV in the U.S., and almost one in five don’t know they are infected.

“Getting tested is the first step to finding out if you have HIV,” reads a statement about the upcoming testing, released by the Hernando County Health Department. “If you have HIV, getting medical care and taking medicines regularly helps you live a longer, healthier life and also lowers the chances of passing HIV on to others.”

Syphilis is easy to cure if detected early, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but if left undiagnosed and untreated symptoms of late stage syphilis include: difficulty coordinating muscle movements, paralysis, numbness, gradual blindness and dementia. In the late stages of syphilis, the disease damages the internal organs, including the brain, nerves, eyes, heart, blood vessels, liver, bones and joints.

This damage can result in death, according to the CDC, and without treatment, infected persons can continue to have syphilis in their body even though there are no signs or symptoms.

In the U.S., almost half of all persons with hepatitis A and hepatitis B report having no risk factor for the disease. Among persons with chronic hepatitis B infection, the risk for premature death from cirrhosis or hepatocellular carcinoma is 15 to 25 percent, according to the CDC.

Likewise, most persons infected with Hepatitis C remain unaware of their infection because they are not clinically ill, and persons newly infected with Hepatitis C typically are either asymptomatic or have a mild clinical illness. Hepatitis C virus infection is the most common chronic bloodborne infection in the U.S., with an estimated 3.2 million persons chronically infected.

Chronic Hepatitis C infection develops in 70-85 percent of Hepatitis C-infected persons, and 60-70 percent of chronically infected persons develop evidence of liver disease, according to the CDC.

The surest way to avoid transmission of sexually transmitted diseases is to abstain from sexual contact or to be in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested and is known to be uninfected, according to the CDC. For more information, call 727-861-5250 ext 177.

mreinig@hernandotoday.com

(352) 544-5271

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