Posted at: 06/27/2013 10:39 AM
Updated at: 06/27/2013 10:46 AM
By: Brittany Falkers
Thursday was National HIV Testing Day and one organization says taking the test and taking control is the next step to help stop the spread of AIDS.
It's an initiative to inform the public that virtually anyone can be at risk of contracting HIV, depending on lifestyle and behaviors. In fact, about 1.2 million people are living with HIV in the U.S; almost one in five don't even know that they're infected, according to the Rural AIDS Action Network (RAAN)
These statistics are particularly troubling for RAAN officials because those who do not know they have HIV may be infecting others without being aware of it. Those people may also be missing years of beneficial treatment and care. They say a person can be infected for ten years before having any significant symptoms.
RAAN is a non-profit organization working to raise awareness and prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS in Greater Minnesota. They encourage anyone, especially at-rick rural Minnesotans, to get tested for HIV.
As part of National HIV Testing Day they speaking up about getting tested with the campaign 'Take the Test, Take Control.'
There were 315 new HIV infections reported in the state last year, according to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). Greater Minnesota made up 17 percent of the new infections, which they says is at an all time high.
Unfortunately, the number of people leaving with HIV in Greater Minnesota continues to grow. As of December 2012 there were 7,516 people living with HIV/AID with 15 percent living in Greater Minnesota.
RAAN officials say knowing your HIV status is imperative and getting tested is quick, free and confidential. RAAN offers HIV testing for people who are at high risk.
To learn if you are at high risk for HIV or to schedule a HIV test visit www.raan.org or call 800-377-9735.
RAAN has multiple offices throughout Greater Minnesota: St. Cloud, Moorhead, Alexandria, Bemidji, Grand Rapids, Duluth, and Mankato.