Tennessee: When Fears Keep People Away, Providers Take AIDS Tests to Streets
September 2, 2005
Though a national HIV/AIDS prevention campaign aimed at young people proclaims "Knowing Is a Beautiful Thing," fear of the unknown keeps many people from testing for the disease. To combat negative stigma and halt new infections, the Knox County Health Department is stepping up its community outreach, said county HIV-Prevention Health Educator Kristin Ehrens.
According to a 2004 Kaiser Family Foundation study, more than half of adults surveyed had never been tested for HIV, most because they believed they were not at risk. Others reported concern about confidentiality; fear of needles or of giving a blood sample; a lack of knowledge about available testing; and fear that test results would show HIV infection.
This year, the health department introduced a buddy campaign that encourages people to "come and bring a friend to get tested" for HIV, said Ehrens. It is similar to the "Buddy Check" breast cancer prevention campaign that asks women to remind each other to do self-exams and get mammograms.
But if peer pressure fails to bring people in to get tested, said Ehrens, the department dispatches volunteers to go where they are, sometimes setting up in a back room or storage area to conduct tests, as they did in June for National HIV Testing Week. Sometimes, the volunteers work out of their cars in the late-night and early-morning hours to test sex workers and the homeless. "Whatever works to prevent the spread of HIV, we'll do," said Ehrens.
Knoxville News Sentinel
08.31.2005; Chandra Harris
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.