Affinity hosts free event for National HIV Testing Day

June 27 event offers food, fun and free testing

ROCK HILL, S.C. — National HIV Testing Day is June 27, and in honor of the important cause it represents, Affinity Health Center will host a free event meant to make knowing your status a fun pastime. Located at Emmett Scott Recreation Center at 801 Crawford Rd. in Rock Hill, the event will offer free HIV testing, as well as more recreational activities.

The first 10 attendees to be tested will receive gift card rewards, so arrive early! Keeping the party going from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., hot dogs, games and even haircuts are on the house. On top of testing, Affinity’s event provides educational materials on HIV/AIDS to further combat ignorance and stigma.

“We know that getting tested, for some people, can be a challenge because they fear the results or the stigma associated with HIV,” Affinity’s Executive Director Anita Case told qnotes. “Our hope is to help all people feel comfortable getting tested with us.”

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Affinity Health Center has served the community since 1994, originally called Catawba Care. Since the organization’s rebranding, it has also broadened its services. Completely free and confidential STD/HIV testing is offered Monday-Thursday from 8:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. at the 500 Lakeshore Parkway facility — no appointment required.

No appointments and no fees whatsoever? Free clinics serve a significant purpose, especially those like Affinity with a primary focus on an underserved population. In a moment when the CDC estimates 1.1 million of HIV+ people live in the United States (and 15 percent didn’t know that they were positive), Affinity’s services are particularly important.

“Our philosophy behind free testing is that we don’t want any barriers to getting tested,” Case said. “That’s also why we provide confidential testing and only collect the minimal amount of information that we are required to collect.”

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This anonymity allows for more comfortable access to testing, as well as reducing anxiety in patients who find out they are positive. Though the tests are free, Affinity does not stop at delivering the results.

“For those who test positive, we can immediately connect HIV+ individuals into medical care at our clinic,” Case said. “We [also] offer primary care, HIV specialty care, case management, mental health / substance abuse counseling, peer counseling, nutritional counseling, financial assistance with medications or health insurance costs, emergency housing assistance, and transportation assistance.”

The National HIV Testing Day event not only offers the chance to know your status; it can also be your introduction to a healthcare facility with a philosophy of community service. In a world of for-profit hospitals and Big Pharma, the value of nonprofit medical care can be vital. This is all the more evident for the LGBTQ and HIV+ populations.

“We strive to be the one-stop-shop for people living with HIV/AIDS,” said Case.

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