The Human Rights Campaign Foundation recently launched a new at-home HIV testing program focused on reaching communities disproportionately impacted by HIV Black and Latinx gay, bisexual men and transgender women of color.
HRC, in partnership with Us Helping Us, will be providing a direct-to-door service by pledging to administer a minimum of 5,000 free in-home testing kits for HIV over a year, according to a press release.
“Today, Black and Latinx gay men and transgender people are still dying of HIV and dying at disproportionately high rates,” said Alphonso David, Human Rights Campaign president. “Although we have made significant advances in addressing HIV, some of our communities remain ravaged by it. With this program and working closely with our partners, we endeavor to stop the spread of HIV particularly in communities of color.”
Inspired by Southern HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on Aug. 20, the testing kits aim to help people learn their status without having to visit a medical provider. Marginalized populations often don’t receive testing due to lack of access to healthcare and HIV stigma, according to HRC.
The program is supported by Gilead Sciences under the umbrella of My Body, My Health, a campaign that works toward building a generation free of HIV/AIDS. The program will also provide a referral to PrEP providers and link HIV positive individuals to care via navigation services.
Each kit includes an OraQuick oral swab, condoms, lubricants, and a test information card. There are also educational resources such as an instructional test video and an online service page that shows local HIV prevention and treatment services.
OraQuick has been around since 2012.
“Us Helping Us, one of the oldest and largest HIV prevention, treatment and care agencies in the nation, is pleased to partner with HRC Foundation on this high-impact and critically important initiative to achieve the EHE targets,” said Dr. DeMarc Hickson, Us Helping Us executive director. “It is of equal importance to increase HIV testing in areas such as the Southeastern U.S., which has a long-standing history of oppression, white supremacy and HIV stigma. In addition, we envision a world free of stigma and where HIV testing is part of routine health care.”
Data shows that the availability of HIV self-tests in the U.S. would not only increase HIV awareness, but would also expand access to testing among communities who would not otherwise get tested in traditional healthcare settings. It is also recommended that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once and once every three months for gay and bisexual men.
Other data shows that 1 in 2 Black gay and bisexual cisgender men and 1 in 4 Latinx gay and bisexual cisgender men will be diagnosed with HIV in their lifetime. According to a recent CDC study in seven U.S. cities, 42% of transgender women interviewed had HIV, with 62% of Black transgender women and 35% of Latinx transgender women already living with HIV.