KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Knox County Health Department is recognizing National HIV Testing Day by offering free, confidential HIV testing.

In collaboration with Samaritan Ministry, free testing will take place from 8 a.m. to noon Friday, June 25, at the main health department, 140 Dameron Ave. The tests are conducted with a simple finger prick and provide results in 20 minutes. Counseling and referrals are available for participants.

“The CDC estimates approximately 1.2 million people or about 1 in 7 of those infected with HIV do not realize they have the disease, which means they may unknowingly jeopardize their health and the health of their loved ones,” KCHD Senior Director Dr. Martha Buchanan said. “Knowing your HIV status is a critical first step in getting life-saving treatment and learning how to protect those closest to you.”  

HIV testing is available to community members in a variety of ways, including through self-tests available at many pharmacies, area health care providers and the Knox County Health Department. In addition to the June 25 event, KCHD offers confidential HIV testing from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Call 865-215-5370 and arrive by 3 p.m. Testing is typically covered as a preventive service with no co-pay by most insurance plans.

“The only way to fail this test is not to take it. HIV testing, which is free and confidential, is the only way to know your status and just one more way to be proactive about your health,” said Samaritan Ministry Founder and Director Wayne Smith. “We are excited to partner with KCHD to make this happen.” 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourages everyone ages 13 to 64 get tested for HIV at least once in their lifetime. Although there is no cure for HIV, getting medical care and taking medicines regularly helps those infected live a longer, healthier life and also lowers the chances of passing HIV to others.