Today, Mayor Vincent C. Gray announced a new public-private partnership between the D.C. Department of Health (DOH), Department of Human Services (DHS) and Family and Medical Counseling Services, Inc. (FMCS), supported by Gilead Sciences, Inc., to offer free HIV testing at the Department of Human Services (DHS) Anacostia Service Center located at 2100 Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue SE, in Ward 8; close to 20 people have already been tested.
“This is the first project in the nation to offer free HIV testing at a government social services center,” said Mayor Gray. “While District residents are seeking income support, food stamps, Medicaid and other benefits, residents will now be able to learn their HIV status as a routine part of their health and wellness.”
Building on the success of the national model of HIV testing at the DC Department of Motor Vehicles’ (DMV) Penn Branch Office, the public-private partnership will evaluate the effectiveness of the program with a view to expanding HIV testing to other DHS service centers. Family and Medical Counseling Services is one of the District’s leading providers of HIV medical care, testing and prevention services. Trained staff will be offering residents oral rapid tests during business hours Monday through Friday.
“Similar to the goals outlined in our DMV testing initiative, this program seeks to create awareness and demonstrate the ease of HIV/AIDS testing by offering testing services in a non-traditional setting,” said DOH Director Dr. Mohammad Akhter. “When people know their HIV status, they are more likely to take steps to take care of themselves and prevent the spread of HIV.”
The tests and delivery of test results will be conducted in a confidential space at the offices. Family and Medical Counseling Services will make sure that any persons who test positive are immediately scheduled with an appointment for a full medical evaluation. The confidential results will only be disclosed to the person who was tested.
“This is an excellent additive to the essential services that we already provide our residents within our Service Centers. Our hope is that our clients will take advantage of this service toward ensuring better health for themselves and their families,” said DHS Director David Berns.
“We are just as excited about this project as we were about the one at DMV. The convenient location will allow us to reach people who might otherwise not find the time. It’s an opportunity for people to address an important health issue while taking care of their personal business. A by-product is increased awareness of HIV/AIDS in one of the most impacted communities in the District, even for those who choose not to get tested,” said FMCS Chief Executive Officer Dr. Flora Terrell Hamilton.
Gilead Sciences, Inc. has provided funding to Family and Medical Counseling Services for the project. DOH will provide the HIV test kits and informational materials. The year-long project aims to test 6,500 residents.