OKLAHOMA CITY – September is World Sexual Health Month, and the Sexual Health and Harm Reduction Service (SHHR) at the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) is implementing a program that provides free self-tests to identify human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) to Oklahomans.
HIV attacks the body’s immune system and if left untreated can lead to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).
The test kits use a cheek swab to detect HIV and can provide results in about 15 minutes. Resources and information aimed at preventing the spread of sexually transmitted infections are also included in the kit.
“This test is part of our continuing effort to combat the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections in Oklahoma,” said Terrainia Harris, director of the Sexual Health and Harm Reduction Service. “The more quickly we can get people tested and get people who test positive connected to the care they need, the quicker we can get control of this epidemic.”
The OraQuick In-Home rapid tests are made available through the federal Ending the HIV Epidemic initiative, launched in 2019 to reduce HIV infections in the United States by 90 percent by the year 2030. The initiative identified Oklahoma as one of seven states with the highest rural burden of HIV and provides resources and strategies critical to combatting the spread of the virus.
The CDC recommends everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once in their lifetime, and at least once a year if a person partakes in activities that might increase their risk.
People who test regularly are aware of their HIV status and can access HIV treatment and care more quickly and remain healthy for many years and possible their entire life.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) protects and improves public health through its system of local health services and strategies focused on preventing disease. OSDH provides technical support and guidance to 68 county health departments in Oklahoma, as well as guidance and consultation to the two independent city-county health departments in Oklahoma City and Tulsa. Learn more at Oklahoma.gov/health