June 15, 2011
The "Lead the Way" campaign's new storefront center at University Avenue and Park Boulevard is targeting residents of Hillcrest, South Park, University Heights, and Mission Hills with its offer of free, rapid-result HIV testing. The center, a pilot program of the University of California-San Diego School of Medicine, opened its doors on May 11. Sixty-three people underwent testing in the first three weeks, with one positive result, said UCSD Research Assistant David Rodriguez, the center's manager. In addition, center personnel have been going door to door offering the test. Those who decline are asked to complete a survey. UCSD says the project, which has one-year funding from the National Institutes of Health, is the world's first comprehensive test-and-treat model of HIV prevention to target the general population; Rodriguez said it will be expanded if successful. "Our overall message is we want everyone to test, regardless if they feel they are at high risk," he said. "It should be something everybody does."