Rahway hospital offers free HIV testing to mark World AIDS Day
Some of the focus on the COVID-19 pandemic is shifting to the global AIDS epidemic as New Jersey marks World AIDS Day.
The mayor of Rahway took a rapid test outside of RWJ University Hospital at Rahway on Wednesday – part of the hospital’s mobile unit testing for AIDS and HIV.
“I think it’s important for everyone to know their status. With early detection, there’s so many treatments that can be done,” says Mayor Raymond Giacobbe.
The free testing was part of the World AIDS Day event.
“We are commemorating all those we’ve lost to HIV and AIDS, but also offering free tests, community resources, prevention education – all things we need to make sure we end this epidemic together,” says Patrick Koslecki, director of diversity & inclusion at RWJ University Hospital at Rahway.
This year’s World AIDS Day marks 40 years since the first cases were reported. Back then, HIV/AIDS was considered a death sentence.
“I can still remember the panic and fear that we would go into these rooms and we would catch it. We were all afraid,” says Dr. Carol Ash, chief medical officer. “It’s no different than the pandemic we are dealing with now – COVID-19. A lot of misinformation and fear around these viruses.”
Research into AIDS and HIV has come a long way. There are now medications that make the disease manageable and can even help prevent transmission. Much of that science is now being used to fight against COVID-19. The rapid scientific successes seen during this pandemic give more hope to an eventual cure and end to the AIDS epidemic.
“I have an extreme hope for a cure to HIV one day, and I think we can forget that is the goal. We have testing, prevention and treatment. But one day our goal will be a cure for AIDS, HIV,” says Koslecki.
More than 36 million people worldwide have died from AIDS-related illnesses since the virus was first reported in 1981. Today people with AIDS are living full and long lives.