Free HIV tests in Mqt.

Thursday is National HIV Testing Day.

To mark the occasion, Planned Parenthood of West & Northern Michigan is offering free HIV tests by appointment.

They even offered to test me.

“There’s about — and these are rough estimates — 20,000 cases statewide  and about 200 in the U.P.,” Planned Parentood registered nurse Hannah Harriman said.

After a small amount of paperwork, a blood pressure check and some routine health questions, the test is just a brief prick of the finger. It’s 99.7% accurate.

“We take a small drop of blood,” Harriman said. “The test takes about 15 to 20 minutes, and you get results in 15 to 20 minutes.”

Because accurate testing can now be done so easily, the range of people who should be tested once a year is very wide.

“The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommends that people ages 13 through 64, which is a little bit surprising, get screened,” Harriman said.

And that’s if no high-risk factors are present.

“People who are a little bit more at risk mostly, in this area, would be people who use IV drugs and share IV drug needles,” Harriman said.

Results are kept confidential, and for that reason, the staff at Planned Parenthood asked me to not disclose the results of my test.