Panhandle Health District

                                                           8500 N. Atlas Road         Hayden, Idaho  83835


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                      Date:     November 17, 2008                   

Contact:                                                                                  Released by: Jeanne Bock, Director                     

Cynthia Taggart

Public Information Officer

(208) 415-5108

(208) 818-7288 (cell)


Free HIV Testing on World AIDS Day


Hayden—In recognition of the 20th anniversary of World AIDS Day, Panhandle Health District (PHD) and the North Idaho AIDS Coalition (NIAC) will offer free HIV testing in Benewah, Bonner, Kootenai and Shoshone counties on December 1.

              The Rapid HIV tests, which provide results in as little as 15 minutes, will be available by appointment at PHD offices in Benewah, Bonner and Shoshone counties. In Kootenai County, NIAC will provide HIV testing at North Idaho College in the Student Union Building between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m on December 1st. No appointment is necessary.

              “Studies show people who know they’re HIV-positive take more precautions,” said Donna Marshall-Holden, who coordinates PHD’s sexually transmitted disease and HIV program. “We want the HIV rate to go down.”

              HIV is passed on through contact with blood, semen, vaginal fluids or breast milk of an infected person. Unprotected sex with an untested partner places a person at high risk of HIV exposure. Sharing syringes and needles can expose a person to blood infected with HIV. Infected women can pass the virus to their babies during pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding.

              A long-term monogamous sexual relationship with a tested partner is the best prevention to HIV exposure. Latex condoms and not sharing syringes and needles also offer some protection. People may be infected with HIV and not know it. HIV infection doesn’t exhibit visible signs and it may take years to develop into AIDS. An HIV test is the only confirmation that a person is not infected.

              Local recognition of World AIDS Day will include donations to NIAC of $1 for each cup of coffee, at least 12 ounces, sold at Calypso’s Coffee in Coeur d’Alene. Calypso’s also will donate half the cost of its Red Ribbon blend of coffee on Dec. 1 to NIAC.

              An evening ceremony at Calypso’s will start at 6 p.m. with a performance by acoustic musician Christopher Lucas. Luminaries will be sold for a candle-lighting and a NIAC client and a Coeur d’Alene Tribal member will address the gathering.

              As of the end of September, Idaho had 1,044 residents living with HIV. Of those, 131 live in the five northern counties.

              The Rapid HIV test is similar to a pregnancy test, using blood instead of urine. If test results are positive, blood will be drawn from the patient for a second test for confirmation. The tests cost $35 to $55 at PHD except for Dec. 1 in the PHD offices in Bonner, Benewah and Shoshone counties. For appointments for free HIV tests on Dec. 1 with PHD, call:


Or stop by the North Idaho College student union 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Dec. 1 for free HIV tests in Kootenai County.