One in six individuals who has HIV is unaware of the diagnosis, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
In observance of the 2014 National HIV Testing Day on June 27, the Harford County Health Department will offer anonymous, no-cost HIV testing on a walk-in basis on Friday.
HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus, is passed from one person to another by bodily fluid, and once it gets into a person's body, it destroys cells that fight off infections, then leads to AIDS, the Centers for Disease Control reports.
The Harford County Health Department encourages people to get tested specifically if they have never been tested, have engaged in any type of unprotected sex or shared a needle.
"People living with HIV without receiving treatment may not experience symptoms of AIDS for 10 or more years, and knowing your HIV status is the first step in taking control of your life," Cindy Dawson, R.N., director of the Harford County Health Department's health services division, said.
More than 400 people in Harford County had been diagnosed with HIV in 2012, according to the most recent data from the Maryland Department of Mental Health and Hygiene.
"Getting appropriate care and medical management for HIV disease allows many individuals to lead full lives, working and raising their families," Dawson said. "Knowledge of a positive HIV test result allows individuals to begin dealing with the disease and taking charge of their health.”
The Harford County Health Department will offer free walk-in testing from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday, June 27, at the Health Services Division, 1 North Main Street, in Bel Air. The office is on the top floor.