Coastal Health District hosts World AIDS Day event

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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — The Coastal Health District HIV Prevention Program offered free testing Thursday in observance of World AIDS Day at the Chatham County Health Department.

From 1 to 6 p.m., more than 50 people received free HIV tests as well as a frozen turkey for Thanksgiving.

World AIDS Day was launched in 1988 to bring awareness to the epidemic.

The Coastal Health District, along with organizations all over the world, hold events near Dec. 1 each year to promote awareness of HIV, decrease stigma surrounding HIV, and advocate for an end to the epidemic.

“The biggest reason it’s so important to get tested is because you can’t just look at someone and tell whether they have it,” Coastal Health District’s Mande-Kan Mendes said. “People have symptoms, but some symptoms can get misinterpreted for other diseases. So it’s very important because the only way you’ll know is if you actually get tested.”

HIV testing is always free at all health departments in Bryan, Camden, Chatham, Effingham, Glynn, Liberty, Long and McIntosh counties and available Monday through Friday during regular health department hours.

“A lot of people think that it only affects one particular part of the population, but it can happen to anyone of all ages,” Mendes said. “You’d be surprised, there are still people who are sexually-active that don’t know their status who’ve never ever been checked before.”

The Chatham County Health Department is hosting another free HIV testing and gift card giveaway Monday, Nov. 30, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The giveaways will include gift cards, swag bags and self-protection kits while supplies last. Participants must be 16 years of age or older to get tested. You can find out more about the upcoming events on the Chatham County Health Department’s website.

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