The Human Rights Campaign Foundation has partnered with the health organization Us Helping Us to launch the U.S.’s first national in-home HIV testing program focused on reaching populations that are disproportionately affected by HIV, including Black and Latinx gay and bisexual men and trans women of color, according to a press release.
The organization has produced research showing that 1 out of 2 Black gay and bisexual cis men and 1 in 4 Latinx gay and bisexual cis men will be diagnosed with HIV. More than 40 percent of trans women in a CDC study were living with HIV.
HRC also announced that it will be providing direct-to-door service pledging to administer at least 5,000 free in-home HIV testing kits in a year.
These kits aim to help encourage and empower individuals to take control over their sexual health. HRC said that while HIV testing is usually done with a doctor in a medical setting, due to a lack of health care as well as stigma, members of marginalized populations do not receive testing.
“The continued prevalence of the HIV/AIDS epidemic requires innovative solutions—these in-home self-testing kits allow people to find out their result in the privacy of their own home, thereby reducing HIV stigma and fear,” said J. Maurice McCants-Pearsall, HRC’s director of HIV and health equity. “This expanded partnership with community-based organizations presents a unique opportunity for The Human Rights Campaign to leverage its extensive reach to propel access to life-saving HIV testing for multiply marginalized communities.”
The program, supported by Gilead Sciences, is under HRC’s My Body, My Health campaign that is seeking to create a generation not living with HIV.
Besides the at-home testing kits, the new program will also provide individuals with referrals to PrEP providers nearby and help connect those living with HIV to the appropriate services.
Kits in the program will include an OraQuick oral swab, condoms, lubricants, and a test information card, according to the release. HRC also developed resources that go along with the test such as an instructional video and an online service page.
“Us Helping Us, one of the oldest and largest HIV prevention, treatment and care agencies in the nation, is pleased to partner with HRC Foundation on this high-impact and critically important initiative to achieve the EHE targets,” said Dr. DeMarc Hickson, executive director of Us Helping Us. “It is of equal importance to increase HIV testing in areas such as the Southeastern U.S., which has a long-standing history of oppression, white supremacy and HIV stigma. In addition, we envision a world free of stigma and where HIV testing is part of routine health care.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed that self-testing for HIV increases HIV awareness. The CDC recommends that gay and bisexual men should get tested every three months.