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'National HIV Testing Day' brings awareness to Kern County

Posted at 11:39 PM, Jun 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-28 02:39:52-04

BAKERSFIELD,Calif. — Thursday is national HIV testing day and clinics are encouraging individuals to get tested. A local clinic in our community is offering free testing to anyone who may need it.

The Clinica Sierra Vista says their goal is to try and get at least 100 individuals tested so they can have a peace of mind on not just their HIV results but other STDs as well.

Willie Mancinelli was diagnosed with HIV back in the late 70s and says that he was given just 10 years to live and that was 20 years ago.

“Just get yourself tested, it will be a fact of life and then the anxiety of it will pass and then you will be like me a survivor,” Mancinelli said. “I had been on medications that made me sick constantly but gradually year by year, the medicine has progressed.”

He now is encouraging all to get tested and break the stigma around HIV. He added that for those who do test positive there is hope to live a full life due to the advancement of medication.

Including the prevention drug ,referred to as 'PrEP,' which stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis.

“If you are in any risky situation [use] Truvada for PrEP,” Mancinelli said.

Kern County has one of the highest rates of STD and HIV in the state and officials say it has been increasing annually.

Brian Harris, CEO of Clinica Sierra Vista, says they are also seeing the numbers increase in teens and young adult groups.

“Its related to poverty, its related to social deterrence of health, and structural discrimination,” said Harris. “People of color are often treated differently in our communities and our job here at Clinic Sierra Vista is that all people receive top treatment regardless of color or income.”

Harris says one of the reasons why they continue to do free HIV testing at the clinic is to ensure that all get tested for a safer community.

“In Kern County we are relatively dark on this graph and in 2016, 213 of every 100,000 people were living with HIV,” said Harris.

Harris says, in 2017, 21 of every 100,000 people were newly diagnosed in addition to the already confirmed.

People can get tested at Clinica Sierra Vista anytime for HIV and any other STDs, follow this link for more information.