Snohomish County currently ranks third<http://www.doh.wa.gov/Portals/1/Documents/Pubs/150-030-HIVSurveillanceSemiannualReport1-2013.pdf> in the state for new HIV cases, following King and Pierce counties. Recent data show that 58 percent of all new HIV cases in Washington State are among men who have sex with other men (MSM). Gay and bisexual men make up less than 10 percent of the population, but account for almost 60 percent of the burden of HIV disease.
In support of National Gay Men's HIV Awareness Day<http://www.cdc.gov/features/ngmhaad/>, the Snohomish Health District will host a free evening of information and testing from 4-7 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 1 in Suite 108 at the Rucker Building, 3020 Rucker Ave., Everett, Wash. The event is directed to gay and bisexual men who are at risk for HIV infection and other sexually transmitted diseases. No appointment needed. The event includes door prizes and light refreshments, and every man screened will receive a financial incentive.
The Health District also will offer free testing to qualified men for Hepatitis C and syphilis, and vaccine for Hepatitis A and B. Both the Hepatitis C and HIV tests are "rapid" antibody tests, requiring only a drop of blood pricked from a finger. Test results will be available within 30 minutes. The tests are anonymous and confidential.
"HIV remains a major health issue for the MSM community," said David Bayless, Disease Investigation Specialist at Snohomish Health District. "Getting tested to know your status is the first step in managing the disease."
Information about a new HIV prevention tool will be shared by Michael Louella, outreach coordinator for the AIDS Clinical Trial Unit in Seattle. Pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, is when HIV-negative individuals take a pill to prevent HIV infection. The medicine currently is used to treat HIV, and has now been approved for this treatment by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention<http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/prevention/research/prep/>, and the Food and Drug Administration. Research studies<http://www.thebodypro.com/content/66547/prep-pk-modeling-of-daily-tdfftc-truvada-provides.html> show that PrEP can lower the risk of HIV transmission when used with other prevention measures, such as condoms.