(Washington, DC) – The DC Department of Health (DC Health) announced a new opportunity for DC residents to get free, at-home HIV test kits in recognition of National HIV Testing Day on Saturday, June 27.
The safe and easy OraQuick rapid HIV test kit allows a person to self-swab their mouth to get a result in 20 minutes. Beginning June 27, residents can get information and order a test for mailing to their DC address at GetCheckedDC.org.
“Mayor Bowser has set the goal of ending the HIV epidemic in the District of Columbia. While we are asking people to stay at home during the coronavirus pandemic, they can know their HIV status by taking this convenient test,” said Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt, Director, DC Health. “DC is breaking down barriers and affording equitable access to HIV testing through this initiative. The 2020 National HIV Testing Day theme is ‘Knowing’ and we encourage all DC residents to know your status and know the options for prevention and treatment. Get tested!”
This year marks the 25th anniversary of National HIV Testing Day. DC was one of the first jurisdictions in the country to recommend everyone ages 13 to 84 get tested at least once per year. In 2016, Mayor Bowser released the 90/90/90/50 Plan to End the HIV Epidemic in the District of Columbia. The plan set goals of 90% of people with HIV to know their status, 90% of people with HIV to be on treatment, 90% of people on HIV treatment to be virally suppressed and a 50% reduction in new HIV diagnoses.
The District has made progress on the first goal with more than 87% of District residents with HIV knowing their status. The home-based testing program provides new ways for people to know their status conveniently.
No matter the test result, DC Health and community partners are available to help. For people who test negative, DC Health offers options for them to stay HIV negative, including Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis or PrEP. PrEP is the safe, daily pill that prevents HIV.
For anyone who test positive, the good news is people with HIV can have long, happy and fulfilling lives. DC has high-quality medical care and other services for support. DC Health recommends scheduling an appointment with a medical provider or calling the DC Health and Wellness Center at (202) 741-7692. The Health and Wellness Center can start people on HIV medication the same day as the appointment.
DC is also the second health department in the nation to endorse Undetectable equals Untransmittable or U=U: taking HIV medication daily suppresses the virus and means you can’t pass it to others. U=U breaks the stigma of HIV and is the key to ending the HIV epidemic.
DC has many community partners for testing, treatment, and support services easily found at www.LinkUdmv.org.
On GetCheckedDC.org, DC Health will be adding more testing opportunities with STD testing and new locations for HIV, STD, and hepatitis testing.