July 27, 2010
The Institute of Human Virology (IHV) at the University of Maryland partnered on July 19 with churches and interfaith centers to offer free testing at the Seventh Metro Baptist Church in Baltimore's Charles North neighborhood. Organizers hoped the event would test more than 1,500 people, surpassing last year's total of about 1,000 participants.
"The Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area is one of the major epicenters of the epidemic," said Dr. Robert Redfield, director of clinical care at IHV. "The tragedy is that almost 26 years after the diagnostic test became available, somewhere between 25 to 30 percent of people don't know if they're infected, and that's what's continuing to drive the epidemic."
According to Heather Hauck, director of the Maryland Infectious Disease and Environmental Health Administration, between 6,000 and 9,000 people in the area are HIV-infected and do not know it.
IHV partners with faith-based groups to do HIV testing outreach because they can access the heart of a community, said Redfield. "If you can get that faith community to be engaged with that individual, you've just enhanced your community health assets enormously."
People began streaming in for testing as soon as the clinic opened at 10 a.m. A van was stationed outside to provide counseling services for those who tested positive.