NORTH CAROLINA (WECT) - Health leaders across the country hope more people will learn their HIV status on Wednesday during National HIV Testing Day.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention sponsors the day as well as several local health departments and clinics.
David Howard, with the New Hanover County Health Department, said testing is so important because of the make-up of the disease.
"HIV is a virus, which does not go away like a bacterial infection," he said. "It is important to remember that. Since it will not go away on it's own, it is important to get tested and know your status."
Howard added that there have been several advances in the testing and treatment of HIV.
He hopes that more people will come out and not be afraid of the stigma around testing.
"We do not want people to be fearful of testing and finding out if they are HIV positive," he said. "The treatment has improved dramatically. There is plenty of resources and hope to live a normal life even if you are positive."
Several clinics and medical providers will offer free screenings on Wednesday.