Us Helping Us, People Into Living Inc. (UHU), the local support group for HIV-positive black gay men, will unveil its new mobile health-screening unit Friday, Feb. 28, at 4 p.m., at UHU’S Developing and Empowering New Images of Men (DENIM) center, at 6925 Blair Road NW.
The new testing unit, made possible by support from the D.C. Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) ”Testing Makes Us Stronger” campaign targeting at-risk black gay and bisexual men in six major cities with high prevalence of HIV, will replace an old unit that was severely damaged during a snowstorm, according to Ernest Walker, a spokesman for UHU. UHU’s president and chief executive officer, Ron Simmons, has served as a member of the working group that advised the CDC in the development and implementation of the ”Testing Makes Us Stronger” campaign since 2009.
”Dr. Simmons has been very excited about getting this new mobile unit,” says Walker. ”The mobile unit has always been an integral part of getting people linked with care.”
UHU regularly providers HIV testing, STD screening, mental health services and other health services to the District’s African-American population, including heterosexuals, transgender people and youth, in addition to gay men. Through its DENIM center, it also provides a safe haven and serves as a resource for young black men from ages 18 to 29.
The new mobile unit will allow for two people to be tested at one time, and is expected to serve 30 to 40 people during the course of one testing session, Walker explains. Typically, he adds, about 5 to 7 percent of people who take part in UHU’s health screenings test positive for HIV. But by getting tested, UHU can link these at-risk individuals with treatment as soon as possible and maintain a fluid continuum of care, resulting in better health outcomes.
”This gets us out onto the streets and into the community,” Walker said of UHU’s mobile testing unit. ”We are able to find the people who are not going into clinics and hospitals who are high risk. And we also offer STD screenings for gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis, so it makes it easier to get people tested for HIV while they’re doing that.”
For more information about Us Helping Us, call 202-446-1100 or visti uhupil.org.