By Tom Lehman 10:42pm, December 2, 2013 - Updated 2:38pm, December 3, 2013The Delaware HIV Consortium marked the 25th anniversary of World AIDS Day on Monday at a Wilmington drug store, where organizers announced a new Hepatitis-C testing service.
WDEL's Tom Lehman reports.
Peter Houle, executive director of the Delaware HIV Consortium, said it’s important to recognize World AIDS Day, which occurred on Sunday, especially in light of an estimated 1.1 million Americans living with HIV.
"It's still after 30 years, stigma, poverty, discrimination and health disparity, which feed this epidemic everywhere," Houle said.
Beginning last year, the consortium partnered with Walgreens and Orasure Technologies to provide free HIV counseling and testing. Hepatitis-C testing is also being added to the initiative starting on Jan. 1.
The HIV and Hepatitis-C testing will occur on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Walgreens located at 839 N. Market St in Wilmington. Testing can also be done at the offices of the Delaware HIV Consortium by appointment.
"Over 25 percent of people that are living with HIV are also Hepatitis-C infected," says Joseph Scarborough, an outreach and advocacy specialist with the consortium.
The availability of HIV testing and counseling is important, says Dr. Awele Maduka-Ezeh, medical director at the state Division of Public Health.
"Not only will you give someone a test that says 'you're positive,' but you can link them to care that is effective," Maduka says.
DPH is also working with the consortium to offer free mail-order condom distribution to help reduce the spread of the HIV.
Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.) says preventative methods and support measures are important ways to lower the number of Delawareans affected by the lentivirus and AIDS.
"We've begun to bend and turn the curve against this epidemic on the continent and we've also begun to make a lasting difference here in our community in Delaware," Coons said.
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