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ST. LOUIS – Next Monday (June 27) is National HIV/AIDS Testing Day (NHTD), established to emphasize and encourage HIV testing.

In March 2021, SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital in Richmond Heights was established to serve the growing population of persons living with HIV/AIDS in the greater St. Louis area to prevent future transmission of HIV/AIDS. 

Dr. Belma Corpening, PharmD of the Infectious Disease Clinic, says that HIV testing is an act of self-care, and knowledge of status is the gateway to engaging in prevention or treatment services that enable individuals, regardless of their status, to live a long and healthy life. She says that testing is simple, accessible, affordable, and routine.

“Our lab would run a blood test that would be considered confirmatory or diagnostic right off the bat,” she said.

Corpening says the results often come back within a day. 

Corpening says testing is for “anyone who has unprotected sexual contact or anyone who has had a sexually transmitted infection in the last couple of months is a candidate for PrEP.”

The clinic provides education and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) treatments. She says if results come back negative, you would take a daily pill or an injection every other month to reduce your risk of getting HIV. 

She says if your test returns positive, “a positive HIV test can be a scary and difficult thing to face. But our clinic has lots of resources to support someone with a new HIV diagnosis. We have a multi-disciplinary team of healthcare providers and ancillary staff that are very knowledgeable in HIV and provide excellent care and education about HIV and the medications.” 

Corpening says their team is available in between appointments and includes a support staff that deals with any financial aspects for medications.   

The ID Clinic is located with the Internal Medicine Clinic at SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital. 

To learn more about St. Mary’s Hospital HIV Clinic, click here.

You can get a free HIV/AIDS test next Monday at one of five Walgreens locations in the greater St. Louis area. The Community Wellness Project will be at the following locations from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on June 27:

3631 Gravois Ave
St. Louis, MO 63116

2510 State St
East St. Louis, IL 62205

The Community Wellness Project is also hosting an event with Gilead Health from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at 2510 Manchester Road. Gilead will be speaking about the importance of adherence. Food will be provided and testing will be available at the event.

The SSM Health Medical Minute airs Wednesdays on News 11 at 7 p.m. and FOX 2 News at 9 p.m.