Health officials offering free HIV testing at Eau Claire gay bar - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Health officials offering free HIV testing at Eau Claire gay bar on World AIDS Day


Eau Claire (WQOW) - A transmittable virus, that still has no cure, has health officials raising awareness about its impact in the community -- and around the world.

Thursday is "World AIDS Day;" an annual international event that started in 1988. The event is held to remember those who lost their life to AIDS and to recognize those who are still fighting against the disease.

Local health officials say HIV, short for human immune-deficiancy virus, can be transmitted through sexual contact and needles or syringe use. They say HIV causes damage and infections to the immune system, which then develops into AIDS. Health officials say HIV is still an epidemic -- where more people are faced with the virus but don't know they have it.

"One in eight people that are living with HIV are unaware of their infection," Abby Hinz, a public health nurse with the Eau Claire City-County Health Department said. "Here in Eau Claire, they number of people living, that we know are living with HIV is 59, and that was back in 2015."

Thursday night, the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin, along with Eau Claire City-County Health Department, are hosting free testings and information sessions at Scooter's, a gay bar in Eau Claire, to educate people about the disease.

"The truth is that most cases in Wisconsin these days are with men who have sex with men," Cheryl Thiede with the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin said. "Testing out at the bar gives people an opportunity who are at risk to test in their community, in a safe place, rather than asking them to walk into our office, which may not feel as comfortable."

Staff at the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin in Eau Claire told News 18 it's important to test for HIV even if you don't suspect you're infected because it rarely causes symptoms. 

Testing at Scooter's starts Thursday night at 8:30. Staff expect to perform up to 30 free HIV tests. 

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