BALTIMORE (WJZ) –Doctors say thousands of people living in Maryland are HIV positive and they don’t even know it.

Weijia Jiang reports on an urgent message for residents.

Church bells across the city rang at noon. They sounded off for 170 seconds for the 170 people in Baltimore who died of AIDS in 2009. On this National HIV Testing Day, the mission is clear: to cut that number.

“The time has seen far too many of our sisters and brothers young and old leave us too soon to HIV and AIDS,” said Rev. Grady Yeargin, of the City Temple of Baltimore.

In fact the Baltimore area ranks tenth nationwide for the number of new cases of AIDS.  About 38,000 Marylanders have HIV with 13,000 patients living in the city.

The health department opened its mobile truck to give free tests.

Doctors say the key is detecting HIV before it develops into AIDS, which is usually deadly. After decades of research, HIV is treatable with pills.

“It is no different from having high blood pressure or diabetes. It’s a product treatable disease. In the past, we feared HIV because it was a death sentence,” said Dr. William Blattner, of the Baltimore HIV/AIDS Commission.

Friends Chaz and Akeem got tested at the mobile site.

“Suck it up, you gotta do what you gotta do. You might say you don’t wanna do it, but to be on the safe side you should do it,” said Chaz.

“You can never do it too many times,” said Akeem.

More testing could mean fewer chimes next year.

Baltimore’s mobile health center sets up all over the city. It only takes a few minutes for the HIV test. Results are ready within two weeks.

For more information on where to find mobile vans click here. 


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