In honor of World AIDS Day on Friday, Jefferson County Public Health is offering free HIV testing at a clinic in Lakewood.

In 2015, more than 13,000 people in Colorado and more than 650 people in Jefferson County were living with HIV and AIDS, according to the latest data from the Jefferson County health department. Across the United States, more than 1.1 million people are living with HIV and AIDS.

But the number of new HIV infections each year has started to decline as advances in HIV prevention and care continue.

Denver Public Health said roughly 20 to 25 percent of people living with HIV are unaware. The only way to know for sure if you have HIV is to get tested, according to the health department. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone between 13 and 64 years old gets tested.

Despite the stigma, people living with HIV and their partners can have healthy, long lives. In September 2017, the CDC announced that people living with HIV have effectively no risk of spreading the virus if they adhere to their medicine and maintain an undetectable viral load.

Additionally, people can take Truvada for “pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, once a day, which helps prevent HIV. Another prevention technique is correct condom use.

Blaine Wajdowicz, a public health nurse with JeffCo, gave the rundown on everything you need to know if you’re interested in the free testing Friday:

Where? The health department’s Lakewood clinic at 645 Parfet St.
When? 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Do I have to make an appointment? You can either walk in or call 303-239-7078 to set up an appointment.
How long will it take? Check-in typically takes 10-15 minutes. The appointment itself lasts for about 30 minutes.
What exactly happens? You’ll head in with a public health nurse for a one-on-one appointment. The nurse will prick your finger and take a small sample of blood. While the test is running, the nurse will discuss with you potential risk factors and help you develop a personalized risk reduction plan.
What to bring? All you need is a copy of your I.D.

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