Washington, DC—The District of Columbia Department of Behavioral Health recognizes World AIDS Day and announces that free HIV testing and counseling are available at its adult clinic located at 35 K Street NE and at Family and Medical Counseling Service, Inc. located at 2041 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE, Suite 303 (by the Big Chair). It’s easy and painless—and takes about 25 minutes to test and get results.
HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. If left untreated, HIV can lead to the AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). The human body cannot get rid of HIV and the only way to know for sure if you have HIV is to get tested. HIV is a treatable condition and can be controlled with proper medical care.
If you test positive for HIV, free counseling is available on site. It’s normal to worry or experience some degree of fear. Almost everyone faces mental health challenges at some point. This is true for all individuals, not just those living with HIV. Good mental health is an important part of staying healthy when living with HIV. A support network may be all you need to maintain positive mental health and get through the tough times. For tips on to stay healthy living with HIV, visit www.AIDS.gov.
“It’s important for people living with HIV to be aware of an increased risk for developing anxiety, depression, or other mental health problems. These conditions are treatable and you can get better,” said Dr. Tanya A. Royster, Director of the Department of Behavioral Health.
“Untreated mental health problems can worsen your physical health by making it harder to take HIV medications on time or keep medical appointments, get enough sleep and exercise, or cope with the stresses of daily life.”
If your mental health begins to affect your ability to carry out typical functions in your life, it’s important to get help. Changes that might be significant include:
- No longer finding enjoyment in activities which usually make you happy
- Withdrawing from social interaction
- Change in memory functioning
- Sleeping too much—or being unable to sleep
- Feeling “sad” or “empty” much of the time
- Feeling guilty
- Feeling tired all the time
- Experiencing sudden and repeated attacks of fear known as “panic attacks”
- Having racing thoughts
- Loss of sexual interest
- Feelings of wanting to hurt yourself or others
- Intense anger or rage toward others
Help is available. If you notice these changes, please call 1-888-793-4357 to talk with a mental health counselor who can refer you to mental provider of your choice. Calls are answered 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Department of Behavioral Health HIV Testing and Counseling Locations:
Department of Behavioral Health Adult Clinic
35 K Street NE
Washington, DC 20002
Phone: (202) 442-4202
Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Family and Medical Counseling Service, Inc.
2041 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE, Suite 303 (by the Big Chair)
Washington, DC 20020
Phone: (202) 889-7900
Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Established by the World Health Organization in 1988, World AIDS Day is celebrated around the world each year on December 1 to spread knowledge and awareness about the disease.