FAIRBANKS — Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest will offer free HIV testing at four of its Alaska health centers this week in recognition of World AIDS Day, which takes place every year on Dec. 1.
The health centers in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau and Soldotna will offer the screenings from today through the end of the day Friday. The health center in Sitka will not offer screenings because it has no clinician on staff.
The organization also will offer the screenings at many of its other locations around the northwest United States, in its three Idaho and 20 western Washington locations, according to Kristen Glundberg, a spokesperson with the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest.
Glundberg said the free period is a vital opportunity for patients who otherwise might not take advantage of or might not be able to afford the screening. The tests typically cost patients $40.
“We’ve seen it time and time and time again,” Glundberg said.
This marks the second year the organization has provided the screenings for a week free of charge, according to Glundberg. She said the money for the screenings comes entirely from donations.
The screenings can serve as a benefit not only to the person getting tested, she said, but also to the community as a whole.
“If you know what’s going on with yourself you’re not going to pass that on to anyone else,” Glundberg said.
Getting tested can sometimes be only the first step. The organization often works with patients after their screening to ensure strong follow-up care.
“Then they know, and then they can get information,” Glundberg said. “We get them referred to the next set of providers that can really help them get through it.”
Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest also does a free screening period in April each year for chlamydia and gonorrhea, which exist in high rates in Alaska compared to many other areas of the country, Glundberg said.
The Planned Parenthood health center in Fairbanks is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday.
Walk-ins are welcome, the organization said, but appointments can be made by calling 1-800-230-7526.
Contact staff writer Weston Morrow at 459-7520.