VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) - Free HIV tests were given to teens in Virginia Beach Sunday afternoon as part of a program to promote public health.
Testing was open to the public at Mount Trashmore where youth volunteered to participate in front of an audience. It was part of a larger event that included a 5K Run to Stop Youth AIDS and a Family Fun Day with live music, games and food vendors.
The event was the first of its kind and hosted by the nonprofit TeenAIDS-PeerCorps. Until Sunday, testing had been done in private behind closed doors.
The recently approved home HIV test kits use saliva; no blood, needles or lab work required.
"We are bringing AIDS testing out of the closet," Dr. John Chittick, executive director told WAVY.com. "By doing it in public, spectators see there is nothing to fear or be ashamed of and early detection saves young lives."
Volunteers who agreed to be tested publicly say the self HIV test is easy.
The Center for Disease Control says all adolescents and young adults should be tested annually.
"Sexually active youth need to know their status so they will not transmit the virus to unsuspecting partners or their babies," said Chittick.
Volunteers who agreed to be tested say the self HIV test is easy.
Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms also proclaimed April 7 "Youth AIDS Prevention Day."
Norfolk ranks highest among cities in Virginia for AIDS cases and new HIV cases.
"Teens are telling their friends about the tests using texting, Facebook and tweets," Chittick added. "By creating a positive buzz among peers, the messaging helps ends the stigma."
Chittick, a former Harvard lecturer, is presenting his research findings to international conferences of physicians this summer.
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