CAMP Rehoboth Promotes National HIV Testing Day - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

CAMP Rehoboth Promotes National HIV Testing Day

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CAMP Safe sign (Photo: WBOC) CAMP Safe sign (Photo: WBOC)

REHOBOTH BEACH, Del. - CAMP Rehoboth is urging people to take advantage of its free HIV rapid tests Monday on National HIV Testing Day.

The day started in 1995 to promote testing and early diagnosis.

According to Steve Elkins, the executive director of CAMP Rehoboth, a local LGBT non-profit, said the organization has provided free testing as part of a state contracted program called CAMP Safe since 1997. Originally it was marketed toward "men having sex with men."

"When we first started dealing with HIV in this area it seemed we were having a funeral every other day," he said. "At least once a week someone was dying from it."

According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, more than 90 percent of new HIV infections could be prevented by testing because even with a positive diagnosis, there is medication that can keep people healthy for many years and also reduce their chance of passing it to someone else.

"My question is what are you waiting for?" Elkins said. "It's time now because you need that piece of mind. But your partners need that piece of mind as well, and it's important that we offer the testing because if more people, every person that gets tested, that's one less chance of spreading this disease."

Currently, around 1.2 million people in the US have the virus, while nearly 3,500 have it in Delaware. According to state health data, "men having sex with men" is the leading cause since 1999 and is the highest ranking rise factor at 33 percent of all cases.

Elkins, however, said everyone is welcome.

"It's really necessary everywhere. These kind of resources, something about a resort area, people leave home and they sometimes leave their inhibitions but they also leave their good sense at home," he said. "And so it's really important that we make sure that not only our summer visitors - but our residents - are making sure that they're protecting themselves and their sexual partners."

CAMP Rehoboth is administering the free tests all day from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at its facility on Baltimore Avenue.
 

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