RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas (ValleyCentral) — More than 40 years after AIDS arrived in the United States a local health organization is sharing the importance of getting tested for HIV. 

“A lot of people have a stigma, an idea of what HIV is and the type of people who contract HIV,” said Nathan Pullin, a Community Health Worker at Behavioral Health Solutions.

Pullin with the CARE project at Behavioral Health Solutions said the stigma of HIV has been around since its discovery in the 80s, but one specific group has always been targeted. 

“A lot of people view it as only something the LGBTQ community may have, some may think it’s only passed on if you’re a gay man and really at the end of the day we’re going to help the community see we’re offering testing to everybody,” said Pullin.

June 27 is National HIV Testing Day, Pullin is encouraging everyone regardless of sexual orientation to get tested and know their HIV status. He explains that early diagnosis can increase your chances of living a normal life. 

“You can contract HIV today and not know 5 years from now, 10 years from now. You can start manifesting symptoms of severe sickness which by that point it could be too late for treatment,” he said.

Pullin said while there’s no cure for HIV, there is treatment.

“You take a medication once a day it’s called antiretroviral therapy (ART), and this allows your body to suppress the virus it makes it to the point where the virus is not able to duplicate or replicate itself,” said Pullin.

The goal of the treatment is for a person to become undetectable for HIV. Behavioral Health Solutions is working with Valley Aids Council to share resources on pre and post-exposure for the community. Testing will take place on Monday, residents are encouraged to sign up through Behavioral Health Solutions