MEMPHIS, Tenn., (localmemphis.com) – Several places including OUT Memphis, Walgreens, and the Shelby County Health Department offered free HIV testing Thursday.
Jessie Claudio is a men’s sexual health expert at OUT Memphis and said the organization is trying to stop the spread of HIV by ending the stigma.
“The whole thing is really about empowering people, sharing information, and educating them,” Claudio said.
Claudio said he gets tested regularly and encourages others to do so as well to protect themselves and others.
“I get tested so basically I can have control and autonomy over my sexual health,” Claudio said.
OUT Memphis works to educate people about sexual health and offers advice and resources for everyone in the community.
Claudio said it’s important for people to know ways you can and cannot contract the disease.
“The main one is through sexual fluids,” Claudio said. “That’s vaginal, rectal, and penial.”
He said common misconceptions of how to contract the disease include “kissing” and “using the bathroom after an HIV-positive person.”
There are other resources for people who are trying to avoid contracting the disease, such as, condoms or prep. Prep is a pill that can be taken if you are HIV-negative and want to protect yourself from the disease.
Another resource is PEP, which is an emergency pill that can be taken within 72 hours of exposure for 28 days in a row to help block HIV.
Livestrong ranked Memphis as one of the cities with the highest population of people living with HIV.
A few places in Shelby County that offer HIV resources include:
Outmemphis (901) 278-6422
PEAS (Partnership to End AIDS Status) (901) 779-0922
Shelby County Health Department (901) 222-9425
Friends for Life (901) 272-0855
Le Bonheur Community Health and Well-Being (901) 287-4764