EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – As part of World AIDS Day on Thursday,  Dec.  1, the City of El Paso Department of Public Health will provide free confidential HIV testing and housing referral assistance for people living with HIV/AIDS.

Health officials will host a “World AIDS Day, Aiding the Community” event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Dec. 1 at La Fe CARE Center, 1505 Mescalero Ave.

There, community members can learn about the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) program. This program provides financing and competitively awarded grants to eligible states, cities and nonprofit organizations to provide housing assistance and related support to meet the housing needs of low-income people and their families living with HIV/AIDS.

The Department of Public Health will also provide free confidential HIV Testing from 8 to 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Thursday, December 1 at 701 Montana Ave. They also provide testing during their regular business hours every Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

World AIDS Day was first observed in 1988. Each year, organizations and individuals across the world bring attention to the HIV epidemic, endeavor to increase HIV awareness and knowledge, speak out against HIV stigma, and call for an increased response to move toward ending the HIV epidemic in the U.S.

According to the Texas Department of State Health Services as of 2021, 2,455 El Paso County residents live with HIV. Data shows that the Hispanic population bears the highest burden of people living with HIV in El Paso, as they comprise over 85 percent of cases.

According to the CDC, an estimated 1.1 million people in the United States had HIV at the end of 2019, the most recent year for which this information is available.

Of those people, about 13 percent did not know they were living with HIV. Globally, HIV continues to be a major public health issue. In 2021, an estimated 38 million people were living with HIV (including 1.8 million children). For more information on the HIV Prevention program, call 2-1-1 or visit EPHealth.com under the HIV Prevention Tab.