See? Even the mayor gets tested

John Curtis, Mayor of Provo, is getting an HIV Test on Mar, 31. Don’t be worried though. It’s for a good cause, and, as far as we know, everything will be fine. Curtis’ test results will be kept confidential.

Curtis’ test is part of a biannual Health fair as well as an HIV prevention and education program hosted by Centro Hispano, a non-profit organization that offers services to Spanish-speaking immigrants in Utah County. The testing isn’t limited too him. Centro Hispano will be offering free and confidential testing to the public as well.

“We thought it would be a good idea to show how anyone could be tested for the virus,”

said Angélica Nash, Health & Wellness Program Coordinator with Centro Hispano. “Being tested doesn’t mean that you have the disease. It should be a health assessment that you have every year.”

HIV testing has become an increasingly necessary think to check in the realm of health concerns. Since the State Department of Health began keeping record of HIV and AIDS, there have been at least 1,062 reported cases of HIV, 2,476 reported cases of aids and 1,189 reported AIDS related deaths. In Utah County alone, there have been 55 reported cases of HIV and 133 reported cases of AIDS at least.

Mayor Curtis’ plan to get the test done will be high profile, at least for this community, acting as a role model for personal health dealings.

“It shows how normal it is to take the test,” Nash said. “If mayor Curtis can get the test, anyone else can. He has nothing to hide. He’s not at risk, but you never know how you can become infected.”

In addition to being tested as a part of the health fair, Curtis’ test also coincides with the establishment of Centro Hispano as a free and confidential HIV testing site as well as HIV prevention and education project Prevent and Protect Yourself! (Previene y Protegete!). It’s a service Centro Hispano has found more essential within the community it serves.

“The Utah county Health Department and Planned Parenthood are the only community clinics [in the Provo-Orem area].” Nash said. “Some of the community of Hispanics or Latinos sometimes don’t feel comfortable with going to the Health Department or Planned Parenthood… They don’t want to have the stigma that ‘Everyone’s going to know I’m getting tested.’ Centro Hispano is a nice neutral ground. People come for various reasons…It’s a nice, more private setting.’”

The goal of this action is to help inform communities of the normality of the tests as well as the diseases they are preventing.

“There’s a lot of myths and a lot of misinformation about the disease,” Nash said. “We want to teach them the ways people get the virus. We want to prevent as much spread of the virus as we can.”

In addition to the AIDS testing, the Health fair will also offer free vision screenings, cholesterol tests, and Zumba classes in addition to other activities and services.

The Health Fair takes place from 6-8 p.m. Mar. 31 at the Eclipse Event Center, 600 S 100 W, in Provo. For more information visit CentroHispanoUC.org.

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