- The Magazine
The D.C. Department of Health has launched a program for D.C. residents to obtain free, at-home HIV test kits.
The OraQuick rapid HIV test allows a person to self-swab their mouth and get a result in 20 minutes.
Residents can visit GetCheckedDC.org to get information about a test and order one, which will then be mailed to their D.C. address.
The District was one of the first jurisdictions in the country to recommend everyone ages 13 to 84 get tested for HIV at least once a year.
In 2016, Mayor Muriel Bowser released the 90/90/90/50 Plan to End the HIV Epidemic in the District.
That plan aims to get 90% of people with HIV to know their status, 90% of people with HIV to be on treatment, 90% of those on treatment to achieve viral suppression, and to reduce the number of new HIV diagnoses by 50%.
The District has already made progress toward achieving the first goal, with 87% of District residents with HIV knowing their status.
The home testing kit should provide a new, more easily accessible way for people to get tested.
“Mayor Bowser has set the goal of ending the HIV epidemic in the District of Columbia,” Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt, the director of the D.C. Department of Health.
“While we are asking people to stay at home during the coronavirus pandemic, they can know their HIV status by taking this convenient test.
“D.C. is breaking down barriers and affording equitable access to HIV testing through this initiative…. [We] encourage all D.C. residents to know your status and know the options for prevention and treatment.”
The Department of Health is also offering itself as a resource to residents, regardless of the test result.
For those who test negative, the department can provide them with additional HIV prevention methods, including linking individuals with pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, a daily pill proven to reduce rates of infection among those who take it.
For those who test positive, D.C. has a number of doctors and medical providers who can link patients with high-quality medical care, including antiretroviral medication — which will lead to successful viral suppression, thus nearly eliminating the rate of transmission — as well as counseling and other support services.
Those with HIV are encouraged to schedule an appointment with a medical provider or call the D.C. Health and Wellness Center at 202-741-7692.
The Health and Wellness Center will be able to start people who test positive on antiretrovirals on the first day they are seen.
GetCheckedDC.org will be updated on a regular basis to include a list of HIV, STD, and hepatitis testing sites.
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