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Free HIV Testing Offered in Cambridge

June 30, 2006

CAMBRIDGE – Cambridge Health Alliance is urging people who believe they may at risk for HIV to get tested.

Residents who may be at risk for infection include men who have sex with men, people who have used injection drugs, refugees and recent immigrants, and anyone who has had unprotected sex.

State health officials estimate there are about 6,000 Massachusetts residents with HIV who do not realize they are infected.  Many do not seek medical care until they are severely ill.

Cambridge is no exception to this trend.  Between 1999 and 2004, about 28% of residents diagnosed with HIV learned about their infection within only weeks of developing AIDS.  These individuals lost the opportunity for early care and treatment that could have eased their suffering and prolonged their lives.  They also may have unknowingly infected their partners.

"An infected person can feel totally fine and yet have a badly damaged immune system," said Dr. Gerard Coste, medical director of the Zinberg (HIV) Clinic at The Cambridge Hospital.  "The sooner people with HIV get tested, the sooner we can determine the extent of the damage and make a decision about whether they need to be started on medications."

Dr. Coste added that HIV medicines generally work better when the disease is less advanced.

For more information about free HIV testing or to make an appointment, call the Alliance's HIV Line at 617-591-6767.   Information about testing is also available at www.hivtest.org. 

In recognitions of National HIV Testing Day on June 27, Cambridge Health Alliance and several community organizations are offering free HIV testing and counseling at additional sites though June 30.  Many of these sites will also offer hepatitis B and hepatitis C testing.  No appointment is required.  Free testing will also be available at locations in Somerville and Everett.

Anyone who gets tested (and returns for their results) will receive a $10 Market Basket food voucher or a $10 phone card.

Cambridge locations:

Tues., June 27
9 a.m. - 7 p.m.
The Cambridge Hospital
Zinberg Clinic (Cahill Bldg)
1493 Cambridge St.

1 p.m. - 6p.m.
Windsor Street Health Center
119 Windsor St.

Wed., June 28
9 a.m. - 7 p.m.
The Cambridge Hospital
Zinberg Clinic (Cahill Bldg)
1493 Cambridge St.

4 p.m. - 7p.m.
Windsor Street Health Center
119 Windsor St.

Thurs., June 29
9 a.m. - 6 p.m.
The Cambridge Hospital
Zinberg Clinic (Cahill Bldg)
1493 Cambridge St.

8 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Windsor Street Health Center
119 Windsor St.

Fri., June 30
9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
The Cambridge Hospital
Zinberg Clinic (Cahill Bldg)
1493 Cambridge St.

 

MEDIA CONTACT

Suzy Feinberg, MPH
Public Information Officer
617-665-3833
sfeinberg@challiance.org


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