Texas: Hip-Hop Concert to Serve as Lure for HIV Screenings
July 1, 2009
In the coming weeks, the Houston health department and partner agencies will attempt to test a record 15,000 people for HIV. At sites across the city, including Planned Parenthood and St. Hope Foundation, everyone who receives the test, one hour of education, and their results will get tickets to a July 11 hip-hop concert at the George R. Brown Convention Center.
"We're really looking to reach an unprecedented number of youth," said Beau Mitts, program manager for the health department's HIV, STD, and viral hepatitis prevention bureau. "As far as we know, this is the largest undertaking of any mass HIV testing event in the United States."
A similar program last year screened 2,700 young people in two weeks, and approximately 7,500 were tested over seven weeks in 2007. These efforts detected about 50 HIV cases. This year's event will include syphilis screening, said Mitts. It is estimated that 1 percent who test during the current outreach will be HIV-positive and even more will learn they have syphilis, he said.
Houston's African-American community has been hard-hit by HIV/AIDS. One in every 46 black residents of Harris County has the virus, said Mitts. In 2008, 65 percent of new HIV cases among county residents ages 13-24 were black. In 2007, Harris ranked second only to Los Angeles County for syphilis cases.
HIV and STD cases have spiked recently at Baylor Teen Health Clinic, which has locations in Kashmere Gardens, Acres Homes, and the Third Ward. "We have observed a very significant increase in the number of HIV cases," said Ruth Buzi, the clinic's director of social services. "We really want to encourage people to get tested, so they can find out about their status and engage in risk-reduction behaviors and prevent transmission."
06.22.2009; Cindy George
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.