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Spotlight Series: HIV Stigma and Discrimination
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U.S. News

California: "Get Screened Oakland" HIV/AIDS Program Is Unique in Nation

December 8, 2008

A decade after Oakland declared a state of emergency over HIV/AIDS in the African-American community, many residents still do not get diagnosed with HIV until they already have AIDS. That might have been understandable when treatments were new, said Marsha Martin, director of Get Screened Oakland (GSO), "but not today."

Of the 7,400 AIDS cases diagnosed in Alameda County between 1980 and 2007, 4,300 were in Oakland. And all but 200 of the city's cases were African Americans and Latinos, said Martin. Past outreach efforts were fragmented and aimed at populations too narrowly defined by San Francisco's epidemic, she said. "Now we have to get everyone tested," Martin said.

Oakland provides GSO with an annual $200,000. The program also receives funding through private and public grants. The goal is to make HIV screening a routine part of health care and enlist community organizations, businesses, and faith groups to combat disease-related stigma. Martin is focusing on recruiting hospitals and clinics to expand their testing services.

Kaiser Permanente, Highland Hospital, and Alta Bates Summit Medical Center already offer HIV screening for patients in their emergency departments. Children's Hospital Oakland is considering a similar program.

Homophobia, IV drug use, homelessness, and poverty are all driving the epidemic, said Kabir Hypolite, acting director of the Office of AIDS Administration for the Alameda County Public Health Department. Only about half the estimated 12,000 people who have HIV in the county have been diagnosed, he said.

"It's the shame issue," said Belinda Dronkers-Lauretz, executive director of API Family Pride, an outreach organization that targets Asian and Pacific Islander gays and lesbians. "We need to break that barrier."

Back to other news for December 2008

Adapted from:
Contra Costa Times
12.02.2008; Angela Woodall

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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.
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