Today, when it comes to knowing your HIV status, testing has never been quicker and easier. And now, for the next several days, it will also be free.

In observance of World AIDS Day, which takes place annually on Dec. 1, Family Planning of South Central New York will offer free confidential rapid HIV testing and counseling for the entire week — from Nov. 26-30 — at all five of our local health centers.

Those center locations are:

  • Binghamton: 117 Hawley Street
  • Oneonta: 37 Dietz Street
  • Norwich: 5 Cortland Street
  • Sidney: 37 Pleasant Street (Tuesday only)
  • Walton: 130 North Street (Wednesday only)

Family Planning is one of the few health care agencies in south central New York that offers the state-of-the-art 4th generation rapid HIV test.

This 4th generation test can pick up an HIV infection 17 days after it has occurred — almost four weeks earlier than the previous test.

The rapid HIV test is a painless finger prick for a drop of blood. Results are ready in 20 minutes. Patients also receive counseling on how to identify and reduce their risk of HIV infection.

“If you have HIV and don’t know it, you’re more likely to pass the virus on to others,” Debra Marcus, Family Planning’s chief executive officer, said. “But, once you know your status, you can then take steps to make sure you and your partner stay healthy.”

In addition to offering the new rapid test, Family Planning also now offers PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis, to help prevent HIV infection.

PrEP is for people who do not have HIV but remain at risk for getting the infection from sex, such as an HIV negative person with an HIV positive partner, or injectable drug use.

The medication, one pill a day, can stop the virus from taking hold and spreading throughout the body.

“We can stop HIV — but prevention and treatment starts at square one: knowing your status,” Marcus said.