Rural Minnesotans are more likely to have AIDS than are rural Americans on average. “Approximately 13 percent of Minnesota HIV/AIDS cases are in rural areas, compared with 8 percent nationally,” says a new story in the Alexandria (MN) Echo Press.

Now the Rural AIDS Action Network has announced a special effort to reach at-risk residents of rural Minnesota with free testing for HIV (shown above), the virus that causes AIDS.

“In rural Minnesota, nearly 30 percent of individuals are unaware of their HIV infection, and they may be symptom-free for up to a decade, continuing to unknowingly infect others,” said Charles Hempeck, the organization’s executive director.

The confidential test involves only a swab of the inner cheek, with results in 20 minutes. Earlier diagnosis leads usually leads to better outcomes. The Rural AIDS Action network has offices in Little Falls, Mankato, Bemidji, Alexandria, Hibbing and Mora. Call the hotline for more information:1-800-966-9735.

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