It’s hard to know how to treat HIV if you don’t know you have it. Lack of awareness and HIV testing is still an issue among Black and Latinx gay and bisexual men, as well as transgender women of color. Now, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC)—in partnership with Use Helping Us—addresses this crisis with free in-home HIV tests.
The HRC will provide actual door-to-door service for these communities, administering at least 5000 free in-home testing HIV kits over the next year. The service offers confidentiality, and, most important in certain regions of the US, total privacy away from labs, hospitals, and clinics.
“The continued prevalence of the HIV/AIDS epidemic requires innovative solutions—these in-home self-testing kits allow people to find out their result in the privacy of their own home, thereby reducing HIV stigma and fear,” said J. Maurice McCants-Pearsall, Human Rights Campaign Director of HIV & Health Equity. “This expanded partnership with community-based organizations presents a unique opportunity for The Human Rights Campaign to leverage its extensive reach to propel access to life-saving HIV testing for multiple marginalized communities.”
Serving Underserved Communities
HIV is now treatable and preventable, especially with medication like PrEP. But, marginalized LGBTQ+ groups are often cut off from better medical care and resources, both due to geography and discrimination.
This inequity has dire consequences. According to a recent CDC study in seven United States cities, 42% of transgender women interviewed had HIV, with 62% of Black transgender women and 35% of Latinx transgender women already living with HIV.
At-Home HIV Tests Have A Positive Effect
While protocols like PrEP help prevent the spread of HIV, it requires consistent HIV testing to be efficient and effective. Although initially the CDC preferred the traditional lab setting for HIV testing, it recently acknowledged the advantages within the LGBTQ+ community of in-home testing.
These advantages were many. Subjects:
- Tested themselves more frequently
- Identified significantly more prevalent HIV infections
- Did not increase sexual risk behaviors
- Shared the study HIV self-test with members of their social network, resulting in many more persons becoming aware of their HIV infection.
HRC’s Program Goes Beyond the Tests
The door-to-door service doesn’t end with the in-home test. It’s part of a larger public education campaign called My Body, My Health, that includes a referral to PrEP providers in the person’s area, and links HIV-positive individuals to care via navigation services.
The in-home kits themselves include an OraQuick oral swab, condoms, lubricants, and a test information card. An instructional test video and an online service page that shows local HIV prevention and treatment services are available.
Along with the HIV in-home test kits, HRC Foundation has launched a community campaign that targets regions across the country that are the most affected by HIV/AIDS. Those communities are New Orleans, LA, Miami, FL, Washington DC, Puerto Rico, Indianapolis, IN and Greenville, MS.
“This is a digital advocacy, public awareness campaign that seeks to educate and activate Black and Latinx communities through discussing the intersections of sexual health, race and queerness in order to break down long-lasting HIV stigma and fear,” HRC states in its press release.
Interested in a free at-home test? Order one through the My Body, My Health site.