District of Columbia: AIDS Warriors
May 5, 2008
On any given day, a team of doctors, social workers, and outreach advocates with the Anacostia-based Family & Medical Counseling Service Inc. (FMCSI) travels the District with the goal of preventing HIV/AIDS. A "modern, large and diverse" epidemic is underway in Washington, said Torena White, an outreach worker for the group.
FMCSI has a staff of 75 and a Winnebago that serves as a mobile clinic, visiting jails, churches and festivals, anywhere the team can reach people.
"About 55 percent of our caseload is African-American women, most between the ages of 39 and 45," said Angela Fulwood Wood, a social worker and deputy director of FMCSI. "Many of the women we see were diagnosed after a history of injection drug use or multiple sex partners. But increasingly, were seeing women who have contracted this from heterosexual relationships with men."
On a sidewalk outside the Woodland Terrace housing project in southeast Washington, White calls out to anyone who crosses her path, "Want to get tested? Were doing HIV tests today." "Come on in! We can hook you up with a test for free," she says with a warm smile and friendly voice.
Several teenage boys follow White inside a nearby recreation center, where her team has set up tables with instant test kits, and ask for condoms. White tells them if they agree to be tested, she will give them $5 gift cards for groceries. One young man, age 17, agrees. Twenty minutes later, the teen learns his status: He is HIV-free.
5.2008; Donna M. Owens
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.