Ryan White Outreach Team offers free HIV testing

AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) - The GRU Ryan White Outreach team provides free HIV testing throughout the community. Getting tested early helped save one of the team member's lives.

David Thompson, community outreach specialist for GRU's Ryan White Outreach, is passionate about HIV testing.

"I was actually diagnosed myself in 1989 and went through a long period of trying to figure out why I was still here."

Thompson said helping folks find out if they have the virus, and getting them into care is his way of paying it forward.

"I got into the testing is my way of kind of giving back because I feel very fortunate that even though I've been living with the virus for 25 years, I've never been sick and I'm perfectly healthy because I take my medicine," Thompson said.

The Ryan White Outreach Team had a record amount of people tested in June. Thompson said because of advances in modern medicine, the stigma around the virus and treatment is changing. He went from taking 16 pills daily in the mid 90's, to taking one pill a day.

"By taking your medicine everyday that actually slows down the virus so that it no longer damages their own system and even more importantly now we have studies that show that once we reduce the amount of virus in their system down to undetectable levels, its next to impossible to spread the virus on to their partners," Thompson said.

He said the 20 minute test saved his life, and now he's working to help save others.

"If you got HIV, you're going to find out one way or the other. It's your choice are you going to find out while you're standing up or while you're laying down, and we much rather you find out while you're standing up."

He said if everyone gets tested and treated, we could possibly get rid of the virus for good.

Click here for more information about The Ryan White Team and free testing information.

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