Testing for HIV at the DMV
By Candace Y.A. Montague
October 3, 2010
Starting tomorrow you can get your license renewed, register to vote, sign up to be an organ donor, and get tested for HIV at the Department of Motor Vehicles. This unique initiative will be a year long project available at the Penn Branch location in Southeast Washington. Family and Medical Counseling Services will offer the testing along with up to $15 to offset DMV costs and counseling on the spot. "We wanted to have a broad audience and a captive audience. You're captive at the DMV," said Angela Fulwood Wood, chief operations officer of the Family and Medical Counseling Service. The non-profit organization expects to test 3,000 people over the next year.
The debut of this program has sparked a mixed reaction. According to the Washington Post, David Catania and Yvette Alexander praised the idea and called it "awesome". David Catania explains, "This is exactly the kind of innovation we need in this city. This is a model for the country in how we bring testing to people on a routine basis." A. Toni Young, executive director of Community Education Group says it will reach residents who do not visit the doctor regularly and are intimidated by clinics. However, this idea may not be so new. Former mayoral candidate Leo Alexander says he is not impressed with this initiative because he introduced this idea a while ago. "The only thing new about this idea is that Fenty's people were listening to my platform back in August when I first talked about my plan to increase HIV testing opportunities in the District". Alexander spoke of getting tested at the DMV at a mayoral forum in August.
Rapid oral test kits will be supplied by the Health Department. Family and Medical Services received $250,000 from Gilead Sciences to cover staff costs and the $15 money orders made out to DMV. The Penn Branch location was selected because Wards 7 and 8 have the highest infection rates in the city.
Get tested. Get care. Get involved.
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D.C. HIV/AIDS Examiner
Candace Y.A. Montague
Candace Y.A. Montague has been learning about HIV since 1988 (and she has the certificates from the American Red Cross to prove it). Health is a high priority to Candace because she believes that nothing can come of your life if you're not healthy enough to enjoy it. One of her two master's degrees is in Community Health Promotion and Education. Candace was inspired to act against HIV after seeing a documentary in 2008 about African-American women and HIV. She knew that writing was the best way for her to make a difference and help inform others. Candace is a native Washingtonian and covers HIV news all around D.C. She has covered fundraisers, motorcycle rides, town hall meetings, house balls, Capitol Hill press conferences, election campaigns and protests for The DC Examiner.com and emPower News Magazine.
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