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Parkland Hospital offering free universal HIV screenings at community clinics

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Parkland Hospital is launching free universal HIV testing at its community health centers.

Doctors say they want to normalize HIV testing so people can start treatment early.

Dallas' Parkland Health is launching free universal HIV testing on Monday at all of its community health centers.

The effort comes as new HIV cases are especially prevalent in southern Dallas County ZIP codes, which have been identified as having significant health disparities.

Dr. Amneris Luque, medical director of Parkland's HIV program, says a majority of new HIV cases are in young people, as well as people of color and those from underserved communities.

"It's very important that they get the appropriate care,” she said. “Also these areas are where we have higher numbers, areas that also have higher poverty, low education, low income, or access to care."

Luque says 20% of people diagnosed with HIV are diagnosed late, with infections and complications that could be avoided.

"We want to normalize the HIV test,” she said. “It is very important for people to know their status, so that they can go for care, and take advantage of the medications that are very effective today.”

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Galilee Abdullah is an arts reporter.