LEE CO., Fla. — September marks 40 years since Americans first heard the CDC use the term "AIDS" as a medical diagnosis.
And today is National Faith HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, a day for communities to work together for HIV/AIDS education, prevention, treatment, and care.
In recognition, the Lee County Department of Health is offering free HIV and STD testing starting at 9 a.m.
Since 2017, when the day was first observed events just like these have reached more than 200,000 people from all religious communities across the U.S. Taking a stand against the stigma and raising awareness.
HIV and its end stage known as AIDS began to spread across the U.S. in the early '80s. A virus that the CDC says peeked in 1985 with as many as 130,000 new HIV cases a year. It was the leading cause of death in men by 1992.
Today, HIV is no longer considered fatal and treatments are 1 pill a day. While futures are brighter, a veteran of this historic epidemic remains at his post now in Southwest Florida.
“You get tested," says Dr. Doug Brust of CAN Community Health. "Just like if you have diabetes or hypertension, you get your HIV treated. And that really is important.”
Doctor Brust says he wants to see new HIV cases reduced 90% by 2030. A goal, he says, that can be done with testing.
Nurses will be at the Pondella site from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m., for both HIV and STD testing.
The site is located at 83 Pondella Road.