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Rain offers HIV testing

Tuesday, June 19, 2007 | 2:00 p.m. CDT; updated 6:21 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

An ad appearing on local cable channels this month encourages viewers to “Know more, live more, get tested” by attending National HIV Testing Day on June 27 in Boone County. The Regional AIDS Interfaith Network is providing free HIV testing in six locations around the county.

Cable Positive, an AIDS action group, donated $3,000 to Rain to produce the commercial. Mediacom donated the air time. Rain provides medical services to patients with HIV, hepatitis or sexually transmitted diseases.

Mindy Mulkey, executive director for Rain, hopes that the ads will run throughout the year to encourage people to get tested and also make them aware of the services that Rain provides. But for now, plans are to only run the ads until June 27.

“Everyone should be tested if they have not been tested before,” Mulkey said.

Mulkey has also been promoting National HIV Testing Day out on the street. Two Rain workers stood behind a table on Cherry Street during the Twilight Festival last Thursday, blowing balloons, handing out candy and brochures, and asking people if they were aware of the upcoming HIV testing day.

“A lot of people fear to get tested or are afraid that it will be expensive, some don’t know where to go,” Mulkey said.

About 300 people from Boone County get tested at Rain every year, Mulkey said, and 1 to 2 percent of the people that are tested are HIV positive in the state of Missouri. At the end of 2006, 585 people were living with HIV in the 33-county north central region, Mulkey said. This year Rain hopes to attract 100 people to National HIV Testing Day. There are six locations to get tested in Boone County and several ways to get tested.

Bill Monroe, regional HIV counseling and testing coordinator for the Boone County Health Department, said people who want to get tested often prefer walk-ins rather than making appointments — being spontaneous or discreet about it makes people more comfortable. On June 27, the Health Department is extending its walk-in hours to 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Normally, the Health Department welcomes walk-ins on Thursdays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.; otherwise, an appointment is required to get tested. On June 27, as always, the HIV tests will be offered for free.

It takes about half an hour to get results with OraQuick HIV test method, and longer for a blood test, Monroe said. "These tests are made possible though state and federal funding and are available for free to the public," he said.

Mulkey thinks that everyone should get tested. Rain isn’t targeting any group in particular, although half of the new positive HIV carries are under 25 years of age. Monroe said the people that come in to the Boone County Health Department to get tested have ranged from 13 to 85 years of ages. He added that the Health Department actively targets at risk groups such as the black community and the gay community.

Testing locations include the Rain offices, 1123 Wilkes Blvd., Suite 250; the Columbia/Boone County Health Department, 1005 W. Worley St.; Columbia Family Medical Group, 1506 E. Broadway, suite 220; Kilgore’s Pharmacy North, 700 N. Providence Road; Kilgore’s Pharmacy South, 1608 Chapel Hill Road; and the MU Student Health Center, 1101 Hospital Drive. For updated testing locations and maps, go to missourirain.org.

This story revised to clarify the following: 1 to 2 percent of Missourians tested for HIV are found to be HIV positive; 585 people are HIV positive in the 33-county region that Rain serves, not only Boone County; HIV tests provided by the health department and Rain are free of charge everyday, not just National HIV Day, June 27; and the Health Department actively targets at-risk groups, such as the black community and the gay community.


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