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World AIDS Day All About Education and Prevention

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POSTED: Wednesday, December 1, 2010 - 2:37pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, December 1, 2010 - 7:56pm

El Paso - All it takes to know your status is a quick mouth swab, and twenty minutes later the results of your HIV test are ready.

The El Paso Department of Public Health offered the tests for free inside UTEP's Student Union.

It's all part of World AIDS Day and the importance of getting tested. Some students we spoke with weren't aware of World AIDS Day, but others were.

"I think people should be educated and realize it is World AIDS Day and they should go get screenings and take advantage of them," said student Tanya Maestas.

But the Health Department says there's a reason why many El Pasoans don't get screened.

"No one wants to talk about it. No one wants to think about getting tested, just because they're so scared of it," said Joshua Quezada with the Health Department.

He said many people simply aren't educated about the disease.

"It's everything that culture tells us like 'I'm going to die,' or 'I'm going to be sick all the time,'” he said.

The La Fe Care Center says El Paso's HIV positive population is skyrocketing. It's registering or diagnosing 5-7 new cases a week. That's why knowing your HIV status is so important in preventing the spread of it.

"What people don't know is we can institute therapy for them and people can live full productive lives," said Quezada.

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