HELENA – National HIV Testing Day was marked on Wednesday and state officials took the opportunity to launch a new website to help people find a place to get tested.
The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services introduced gettested.mt.gov. It includes an interactive map of public health clinics and other organizations that provide testing. It also highlights other services, like HIV case management and testing for other sexually transmitted diseases and for hepatitis C.
Jim Murphy, chief of DPHHS’ communicable disease bureau, said the information had previously been available in list format, but that the new site is more accessible.
“It makes it a lot easier for people to find out what services are in their area, and the availability of those,” he said.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates more than 1.1 million Americans are living with HIV – and many don’t know they’re infected.
“When one in seven may be unaware of their HIV infection, that’s a problem,” said Murphy. “These sites allow people to conveniently find out their HIV status, usually in under half an hour.”
DPHHS leaders say public health partners are expanding testing around Montana, and that many offer tests free of charge and some do them anonymously in private settings. They say a state-sponsored network of providers performed more than 2,000 HIV tests last year.
The CDC recommends everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once.