Encouraging HIV testing
Health officials in Washington, DC, have clicked onto using social networks as part of their HIV prevention strategies.
An article in the Washington Blade states that the DC government has sponsored a pilot program aimed at recruiting HIV-positive people to convince their friends and anyone in their social circles to get tested. The program is modelled after similar initiatives in New York City and San Francisco.
Dr Gregory Pappas, senior deputy director of the DC Department of Health’s HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, STD and TB Administration, said that in the New York program about 25 percent of men recruited for testing were found to be HIV-positive.
According to the article, DC already has a number of HIV prevention and testing initiatives to help curtail the number of new infections, but the rate of new infections is still high.
“While the District of Columbia has made great strides in fighting the epidemic, we’re still having 700 to 800 new HIV diagnoses every year, and the greatest proportion among those new diagnoses is still gay men,” said Pappas. “We estimate that there are about 10,000 people in the District of Columbia who are HIV-positive and don’t know their status.”
The capital city has a unique health policy of “treatment on demand” for all those who test HIV-positive. And, for people who don’t have private insurance, the city provides full treatment and care for people living with HIV/AIDS.
The announcement coincided with the National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, when health clinics around the city offer free all-day testing.