On Monday, June 22nd AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the nation's largest non-profit AIDS organization, will partner with AID Atlanta, Inc. to provide free HIV testing through a mobile HIV testing van in the parking lot of Kroger’s Supermarket, 3030 Headland Drive, Atlanta, GA 30311 from 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm.
In an effort to boost AIDS awareness and HIV prevention and testing efforts in some of the hardest hit regions of the United States, AHF began a three week, fourteen-city cross country HIV testing caravan in one of its popular AHF Mobile HIV Testing Units, which are named in honor of and partnership with HIV positive basketball legend Earvin Magic Johnson, Jr. and actor and AIDS advocate Blair Underwood. The tour kicked-off in Los Angeles on Monday, June 8th and culminates with the mobile unit's arrival in Washington, DC on Saturday, June 27th-National HIV Testing Day. AHF is permanently relocating one of the mobile testing units from Los Angeles to D.C., to provide free, easy-to-access rapid HIV testing in various neighborhoods throughout the nation's capital, where it was recently reported that the HIV prevalence rate has surged past 3%-higher than in Lagos, Nigeria.
As AHF staffers and HIV testing counselors drive the van from Los Angeles to Washington through many Southern and Eastern states, AHF's 'whistle stop' testing tour will seek to heighten awareness about HIV testing in local communities along the route.
"While making initial plans to transport our brand new, state-of-the-art AHF/Magic Johnson Mobile Testing Unit from Los Angeles to Washington, DC, we hit upon the idea that this cross country road trip presented a unique opportunity to raise awareness about HIV testing, prevention and treatment through specific testing events and community outreach in cities and states along the way," said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. "As a result, AHF partnered with respected local AIDS and community groups in Phoenix, Albuquerque, Houston, New Orleans, Jackson, Mississippi; Pensacola, Florida; Montgomery, Alabama; Jacksonville, Atlanta, Columbia, South Carolina; Charlotte, Norfolk and Washington, DC to host free HIV testing and media events in each of these communities. At the end of the tour, the AHF/Magic Johnson Mobile Testing Unit will remain and operate in Washington, where AHF will also open a free AIDS treatment clinic-our first in that city-later this summer."
"The beauty of these free mobile HIV testing vans is that AIDS Healthcare Foundation operates them right in the heart of the community-in parking lots of popular retail stores, nearby hip nightclubs and gathering spots, at church events-and they provide the testing, counseling and results all in one session, so people get their test results right away on the same day," said Blair Underwood, who attended the Los Angeles kick-off event. "It is important that people learn how to avoid becoming infected with HIV; or if they are infected, know their HIV status, and seek medical treatment, if needed. People really need to know their HIV status today. These HIV testing vans provide that opportunity for free in a friendly, no hassle way."
HIV Statistics in the United States
“Last August, the Centers for Disease Control released new data showing an alarming 40% increase in HIV infections in the US—56,000 new cases each year up from a previous estimate of 40,000 new cases annually,” said Whitney Engeran-Cordova, Director of AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s Public Health Division. “There is no doubt that the South is disproportionately affected by HIV and without adequate resources. On our trip we want to meet our colleagues in these cities, support agencies in providing testing and do what we can to raise awareness about the genuine need for HIV testing and treatment throughout the region. The number of new infections in the U.S. is absolutely unacceptable. We have a responsibility to do what we must to help those with HIV know their status and get linked into care.”
According to an HIV/AIDS Policy Fact Sheet produced by the Kaiser Family Foundation (“The HIV/AIDS Epidemic in the United States,” updated, February, 2009, with statistics through 2007):
The Kaiser Fact Sheet also pointed out:
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