Thursday, June 27 is National HIV Testing Day.

Heartland Cares Inc. (HCI) is joining forces with other agencies to hold three simultaneous HIV testing events in the region on National HIV Testing Day.

First observed in 1985, National HIV Testing Day (NHTD) is held each year on June 27. On this day, clinics, health departments and other organizations unite to raise awareness, plan events focusing on the importance of HIV testing, early diagnosis of HIV, reducing the stigma and help people get linked to care and treatment.

The KentuckyCare Paducah Facility, located at 125 S. 20th St., will offer free testing from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m.

HIV testing is free, confidential and takes only one minute to receive the results.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once as part of routine health care. HIV can affect anyone regardless of sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, gender or age. Populations most-at-risk for HIV include gay and bisexual men, people of color and people who inject drugs.

The first 30 people to be tested in Paducah will receive a $10 WalMart gas voucher. Refreshments will be available, as well as other giveaways at each event. Everyone tested will have a chance to win a $50 WalMart gas voucher or one of two $25 Wal-Mart gas vouchers at each location.

Donna Reeder, executive director, stated, "Hosting three events [other sites are Hopkinsville and Central City, Kentucky] for National HIV Testing Day this year shows our desire to expand our prevention program."

HCI has two full-time HIV testers on staff and 18 others who are certified to test for events and for individuals who walk into the clinic at 1903 Broadway in Paducah.

"This year alone we will test between 700-800 individuals in our service area. We appreciate KentuckyCare for partnering with us to achieve this goal," Reeder added.

Heartland Cares Inc. is a not-for-profit organization that provides primary care to persons living with HIV/AIDS, support services to clients and their families and prevention education and testing to clients, their families and the community at large.

Within the community, HCI strives to prevent new infections and reduce the fear and stigma associated with the disease through awareness, acceptance and equality.

HCI serves 43 counties: 26 in western Kentucky and 17 in southern Illinois. Medical care is delivered at Heartland CARES' main Paducah facility and at two satellite locations: Carbondale, and Hopkinsville.

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