Northreach Society in Grande Prairie is stressing the importance of knowing your status when it comes to HIV and AIDS. The society is partnering with the Grande Prairie Friendship Centre to host a free, 4-day testing event as part of World AIDS Day and Aboriginal AIDS Awareness Week.

“Quite often when we think about HIV we think about certain groups, certain risk factors. We know that there are certain populations that are more at risk but anybody can be at risk for it so we just want anybody and everybody to come get tested,” says Northreach Harm Reduction Team Lead Amanda Gear.

HIV is a virus that attacks the immune system and can be spread through contact with infected blood. It can normally be detected with a blood test and some lab work.

Currently, there is no cure but Gear says it can be treated if it’s found soon enough.

“The sooner they can get on treatment, the better it is for their health but also if you’re on effective treatment and it’s undetectable that equals untransmittable so they can’t pass it on to their sexual partner [and] they can have healthy pregnancies and not pass it on to their babies.”

During the event, Northreach will also be offering syphilis testing. The event starts on December 2nd and will be held at the friendship centre from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Northreach will be hosting the final three days of testing on December 3rd, 4th and 5th at its location on 98th Avenue from 12 to 8 p.m.