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In an effort to make HIV testing available to a greater number of individuals and help slow the spread of the infection, many public health departments are now offering screenings to local residents at no charge.
However, people who may benefit from this STD testing often forgo the procedure because they are unaware of the service or haven't found the time to pursue it.
In order to remedy these problems, the Tennessee Health Department recently brought their testing equipment to two local festivals to offer HIV testing to the public.
Carolyn Webster, medical director of the department's HIV, AIDS and STD section, told the Knoxville Sentinel that these kinds of efforts are necessary to raise awareness of the situation and to help those who are infected access better treatments sooner.
"The earlier people know their status, the quicker they can begin treatment, which leads to longer, healthier lives," she told the news source. "Without treatment, the HIV infection weakens the immune system and will likely progress to AIDS."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that there are more than 1 million people in the U.S. living with HIV, 21 percent of whom are undiagnosed.
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