Observed worldwide on Dec. 1 since 1998, World AIDS Day is an opportunity to commemorate those who have lost their lives to AIDS-related illness, applaud progress made in responding to the epidemic and recommit to eradicating the disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates 1.1 million Americans are living with HIV infection. Of those, 15 percent, or 1 in 7, are unaware of their infection. The CDC encourages everyone ages 13 to 64 to get tested for HIV at least once as part of routine health care.
“Early detection and care can and does save lives, and that’s why it’s so important that everyone get tested at least once,” said Knox County Health Department (KCHD) Director Dr. Martha Buchanan. “World AIDS Day is an excellent opportunity to not only show your support for those living with HIV but to get tested yourself.”
HIV testing is covered as a preventive service with no co-pay by many insurance plans. KCHD offers resources and local referral information to medical providers who want information on how to start the conversation with patients. Confidential HIV testing is also available at all three KCHD offices:
Main Clinic and Offices Teague Clinic West Clinic
140 Dameron Ave. 405 Dante Rd. 1028 Old Cedar Bluff Rd.
Knoxville, TN 37917 Knoxville, TN 37918 Knoxville, TN 37923
865-215-5370 865-215-5500 865-215-5950
Although there is no cure, getting medical care and taking medicines regularly helps those infected live longer, healthier lives and also lowers the chances of passing HIV to others. In addition to testing, KCHD also offers HIV care and case management to those who qualify in Knox and 15 surrounding counties. In an effort to better serve the community, KCHD recently expanded these HIV services, increasing physician time and hiring a phlebotomist and an additional nurse to serve more HIV-positive patients. KCHD also expanded its nutrition counseling services for these patients.
“Tremendous scientific strides offer hope of a brighter future for those living with HIV. Now, more than ever, it is crucial that those infected with HIV get medical care,” said Communicable Disease Services Manager Bill Blomenkamp. “Our patients are our number one priority, and with this expansion we can serve more people facing this disease and get them into care much faster. In fact, we’re now able to get qualifying patients seen by a physician in as little as a week.”