New ground breaking technology used to test for the human immunodeficiency virus will help slow the spread of the disease.
Right now a patient has to be infected with HIV for at least three months before they can test positive for it, but the new technology can detect the virus as soon as two weeks after exposure.
As of January of last year, Amarillo had only seen 13 cases of HIV. But city health officials say they’re seeing an increase in Hispanic men ages 15- 24.
New testing technology, though could help slow that increase across the state.
“We’re able to pick up infection within about two weeks of exposure,” Amarillo Assistant Public Health Director Casie Stoughton said. “This new test will be able to differentiate between HIV 1 and HIV 2, which will help practitioners in treating their patients.”
Stoughton says the Department of State Health Services is working on getting the new testing technology to all public health facilities.
The Amarillo public health department offers free HIV testing, and the new and improved technology will be free as well. They’ll offer it soon as June of 2014.
HIV is most contagious when it’s first contracted. So being able to test positive for it sooner would not only help stop the spread of the disease, but it could prolong a patient’s life.
“If we can identify someone who is HIV positive early on in their disease, they can begin medical treatment, they can begin taking medication, notifying partners and hopefully reduce the spread of the HIV disease,” Stoughton said.
Stoughton says anyone and everyone who is sexually active needs to get tested.
Officials from the health department will be offering free, anonymous testing at the West Texas A&M Student Center on Monday, December 2, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. World AIDs Awareness Day is Sunday.