By Dr. Gail Barouh
National HIV Testing Day (June 27) is an annual campaign dedicated to raise awareness of the importance of knowing one’s HIV status and to encourage people to get tested. LIAAC supports National HIV Testing Day by extending their outreach efforts and testing activities for the entire week of June 25-30, 2012 in both Nassau and Suffolk counties.
In preparation for the event, LIAAC’s agency staff distributes customized palm cards emblazoned with Project Safety Net’s toll-free hotline number and testing site locations for the event. Local business owners and community service providers like Martin Luther King Health Center, Seafield Services, Suffolk County Department of Labor and the El Salvadorian Consulado are some of the agencies that collaborate with LIAAC to help ensure the success of the event.
LIAAC deploys two unmarked vans with 14 staff members to conduct outreach and pre and post-test counseling in Hempstead, Roosevelt, Farmingdale, Bellport, Brentwood, Central Islip, Coram, Hauppauge, Huntington, Mastic Beach, Shirley, Westhampton, and Wyandanch. Bilingual staff members are also available for individuals who do not speak English. For testing dates and times and locations during testing week, you can look at this flier or check out the events section of our Facebook “Events” page, where you can find the locations, dates and times for our testing events year ’round.
A majority of LIAAC’s extensive outreach efforts during testing week target two populations being impacted the most by the regional HIV/AIDS epidemic: Hispanic and Black Americans who account for 66.6% of local cases, while they make up only 24.8% of the local population. According to the CDC, nationwide, Hispanics/Latinos accounted for 16% of the population but were 20% of the new HIV infections, while Black Americans accounted for 14% of the population but were 44% of the new HIV infections in 2009.
The OraQuick® Advance Rapid HIV-1/2 Antibody Test, and oral fluid test, provides preliminary test results in just 20 minutes. Rapid testing with oral fluid has been a great option for individuals who fear needles or do not want to wait long for their test results. For those individuals who test preliminary positive, a confirmatory test is conducted with an OraSure oral fluid test.
All individuals who received HIV testing are counseled and provided with appropriate referrals, including case management services through LIAAC if tested positive. The Pre/Post Test Counselors offers harm reduction education and provides safer sex materials and educational literature on HIV/AIDS and other Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs).
For more information on our services and HIV testing see our press release on National HIV Testing Day or contact the LIAAC hotline toll-free at 1-877-TO-LIAAC (1-877-865-4222).