Planned Parenthood offering free HIV, syphilis testing | Health
Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region (PPGMR) is offering free rapid HIV testing and free syphilis testing in observance of World AIDS Day, Thursday, December 1.
The free testing is available to both men and women without appointment from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Planned Parenthood health center at 2430 Poplar Avenue. The syphilis test is a blood test and results will be given to patients within seven days. But HIV results will be available to patients on site in about 30 minutes. Volunteers will be leading free Zumba exercise classes in the lobby throughout the day to keep people energized while they wait for their results.
This is the first year PPGMR has been able to offer free syphilis testing in conjunction with free HIV testing on World AIDS Day. Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection that can cause serious illness and even death if left untreated.
In 2010, there were 634 reported syphilis cases in Shelby County (all stages). Shelby County accounted for almost 60% of all syphilis cases in Tennessee that year. Testing for those who are at risk is crucial because the symptoms of syphilis can be hidden or mistaken for a harmless skin rash. Syphilis infection often coincides with HIV infection because the risk factors are the same. An active syphilis infection can also make the infected person more vulnerable to HIV and more likely to transmit the HIV virus to others. Testing for and treating syphilis in our community will also help to prevent HIV infection.
There are currently more than 7,500 persons living with HIV/AIDS in the Memphis Metropolitan Statistical Area. AIDS experts say that more than 20% people who are HIV-positive don’t know it. That’s why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recommends annual HIV testing for all sexually active adults and young people. Early and regular screening is the key to identifying HIV-positive individuals and linking them to appropriate care, including viral suppressive therapy that can help them live longer, healthier lives.
For more information about PPGMR’s health services, please visit its website: www.ppgmr.org.