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New HIV test gets you results in a minute or less

It's no secret a stigma surrounds the three letters, but the INSTI test is making more people feel comfortable.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla — It isn't an easy decision to make, but doctors say walking into a clinic to get tested for HIV could save a life. 

"It's best that people get tested so we can diagnose and get people into treatment early," the VP of Strategic Initiatives at Metro Inclusive Health Rebecca Nessen said. 

It's no secret a stigma surrounds the three letters, but a new test is making more and more people feel comfortable enough to find out if they're positive or negative. 

It's called the INSTI test. It's free and gets results in a minute or less. 

"In the '80s, when we went in to see a patient at the hospital, they would actually have to empty out an entire wing in order for that patient to be admitted. We would have to suit up with a beekeepers' outfit on," Prevention Specialist with Metro Inclusive Health Shirlene Manuel said. 

Manuel has been doing the tests since 1988. She says the INSTI test has been around for about four years, but the health services just started using the tests at the end of September. 

"We have more people coming in now because you have those people that don’t want to wait that 20 minutes," Manuel said. "They say it lasts a lifetime. The people that we do the blood work on where we have a two day turn around on the blood work also think that’s a lifetime. To get that result in a minute has made more people want to come in and get tested."

Here's why this test is important in Tampa Bay. Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties are two of 48 across the country with a high number of cases. The latest survey says in Pinellas County, 512 out of 100,000 could have HIV. Hillsborough County has even more at 573.

"If someone has been exposed to HIV or are living with HIV and they don't know it, there's a much higher risk of spreading that to others," Nessen said.

That's why they want you to test early. Their goal is to keep you healthy and reduce the stigma HIV has. 

"Getting them to their comfort level where they feel comfortable coming in and they can talk to someone that really knows what's going on will make it better for people to come in and get their test," Manuel said. 

A simple finger prick will get you your results. Doctors say one dot means negative and two dots mean positive. The test is free and Metro also has Prevention Specialists that can go to your home to administer the test. 

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