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cover12Story by Darwin Campbell, African-American News&Issues

HOUSTON – National HIV Testing Day is coming June 27, 2014 and Legacy Community Health Services encourages community members to get tested, know their status and learn about HIV prevention methods.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 1.1 million people in the United States are living with HIV and almost 1 in 6 (15.8%) are unaware of their infection.

“With the advancements in HIV treatment, individuals living with the disease are expected to live a similar life span as their peers; however, this is only if they know their HIV status and seek care,” said Amy Leonard, senior director of public health at Legacy. “Getting tested and knowing your status makes all the difference.”

Legacy Community Health Services Legacy is a full-service, Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) that identifies unmet needs and gaps in health-related services and develops client-centered programs to address those needs.

It is important for people to know their status and use protection methods to prevent the spread of the infection.

Over the past decade, the number of people living with HIV has increased, while the annual number of new HIV infections has remained stable. Still, the pace of new infections continues at far too high a level – particularly among certain groups.

Until a cure is discovered, the battle has not been won against the disease.

To observe National HIV Testing Day, Legacy will offer free testing opportunities in the community as well as information about prevention methods such as PrEP (Pre-exposure prophylaxis), an HIV prevention regimen for healthy, negative status people who are at ongoing, high risk of contracting the virus.

The regimen consists of patients taking Truvada, a medicine that prevents HIV from multiplying as it enters the body and stops the virus from establishing a permanent infection.

For more than a year, Legacy has offered the regimen as an additional option for HIV prevention.

“Legacy is very proud to offer PrEP as another method in the HIV prevention toolbox,” Leonard said. “It provides another level of protection and a powerful barrier against transmission.”

Testing is held at various sites across Houston. For more information about HIV testing locations, please contact 832.548.5100 or visit