COLUMBIA — A delegation from the Columbia/Boone County Health Department set up in a grassy area on Garth Avenue to dispense free HIV testing to people who came by Friday, which was National HIV Testing Day.
They were also giving out free condoms and movie passes, said Public Health Nurse Bill Monroe, who manned the booth with two other public employees. He called the 21-person turnout “hugely successful.”
He said the location was part of outreach to the African-American community, which typically has higher rates of HIV/AIDS.
“A lot of the time folks put off getting an HIV test,” he said. “We’re giving folks an excuse.”
He added that there is less stigma attached to taking a free test that comes with a movie pass than going somewhere to get tested.
The Boone County Health Department offers free HIV testing by appointment or Thursday walk-ins at the Health Department, 1005 W. Worley St. The department offers standard blood tests, the needleless Orasure and OraQuick Advance, which can give results within 20 minutes. The department also offers anonymous testing.
Monroe said that after someone is tested, he or she must get the results in person. If someone is diagnosed positive, he or she is given information about the disease and where to look for help.
Part of his job is to give people their test results, both positive and negative. While giving positive test results isn’t fun, he said, it’s become easier in the past 15 years or so because of better treatments for the disease.