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Encouraging HIV testing

BY NOREEN FAGAN – 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.

 

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