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Free HIV Tests Offered Across the Territory Wednesday

June 25, 2007 — Agencies across the territory will mark National HIV Testing Day Wednesday by offering free tests at various locations.
"This is to make people aware of their status," said Pat Odoms, project director at the American Red Cross on St. Thomas. "If they do test positive, they have the opportunity to get into early treatment and take measures not to spread it."
Women who have sex with men are the fastest-growing group of people getting HIV/AIDS, said Odoms and Ivy Moses, who heads the HIV/AIDS agency HOPE.
The reasons are multi-faceted, but mainly have to do with economics, Moses said. Women in the territory don't make enough money, which makes them very dependent on men, she said.
Additionally, higher HIV/AIDS rates comes with the high rate of domestic violence in the Virgin Islands, Moses said.
"And we're trusting," she said.
Bruce Smail, director at VICare on St. Croix, has a different take on the situation. While he acknowledged that the number of cases of HIV/AIDS among heterosexual women is growing, he said cases that fall into other categories are also on the increase.
"It could be men having sex with other men, IV drug users or other factors," he said.
HOPE has spread its testing out over the month of June. The agency has already tested about 100 people at various locations but had no positive results, Moses said.
VICARE has also expanded its services in June and July.
To observe Wednesday's National HIV Testing Day, it will expand its testing hours from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. The tests are done at VICare's office at 43 Queen St. in Christiansted.
Until the end of July, VICare will offer tests from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. All tests will be done at the Christiansted office.
In conjunction with National HIV Testing Day, the Health Department will offer free HIV/AIDS testing from 4 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Glynn Outreach Center on St. Croix.
On Wednesday, the Health Department will offer testing from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Knud Hansen Clinic on St. Thomas and from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Charles Harwood Complex on St. Croix. Both testing sessions are held in conjunction with a health fair.
The Red Cross, in conjunction with the East End Medical Center, will provide testing and information from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday at Tutu Park Mall.
HOPE has scheduled testing for UVI's St. Thomas campus on Wednesday. It will be held between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. at the Health Services Center.
All agencies now use a fast-acting test that takes only a half hour or less for results.
The Health Department will hold an HIV/AIDS vigil Wednesday at the Salvation Army on St. Thomas and the Charles Harwood Complex on St. Croix. Both will take place from 6 to 7:30 p.m.
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