News / USA

Grassroots HIV Screening Offered in New York

The White House in Washington is decorated with a red ribbon to commemorate World Aids Day, 30 Nov 2010
The White House in Washington is decorated with a red ribbon to commemorate World Aids Day, 30 Nov 2010

Wednesday is World AIDS Day, a day set aside to promote HIV awareness and research as well as prevention and treatment of the AIDS virus, which afflicts untold millions of people today. Our correspondent reports on one free grassroots screening effort in New York, where HIV infection rates are three times the national average in the United States.

Wednesday is wet and stormy in New York City, with winds up to 60 kilometers per hour, but that didn't stop Erica Sackin and her colleagues at the Planned Parenthood organization from setting up signs outside the large van that serves a mobile testing facility for HIV AIDS.

"It's so important that people know their HIV status," said Sackin. "It helps with prevention of transmission, [and] helping people get care right away. The sooner you get care, the better, if you find out your are positive. And in New York City, with the rate of HIV AIDS three times that of the national average, it is especially important for New Yorkers to make sure they get tested."

Indeed, according to Planned Parenthood, HIV AIDS is also the third leading cause of death for New Yorkers between the ages of 35 and 54. The disease disproportionately affects the poor and people of color. Over 80 percent of New Yorkers diagnosed with the virus are African American or Hispanic.

But while the hard statistics are alarming, the test itself is easy. It is performed with a simple oral swab, and results are available within 20 minutes.

This represents progress from the screening procedures in place during the early days of the epidemic, says Susan Heitner, who has been an HIV prevention volunteer since the 1980s.

"In those days, you had to have a blood test and it was a big deal," said Heitner. "But now, unfortunately, most people don't think about AIDS as much because it's not in the front of the paper every day... and people need to take that simple step of getting tested, and then they can protect themselves and the people they love."

Medical treatment of those infected with the HIV virus has vastly improved in the nearly three decades since it was identified. Yet stereotypes about who is vulnerable - and who should therefore be tested - persist, says Planned Parenthood spokesperson Nakia Hansen.

"It's not a niche issue," said Hansen. "It's not something that will pigeonhole and say it's a gay issue' or it's a sex worker issue,' [or] it's a moral issue.' We all need to be responsible for it. So anything that we can do to encourage safe sex, contraception, condom use, empowering women to make decisions about when and under what circumstances they have sex, those are all was to prevent the transmission of HIV and new infections."

Other World AIDS Day observances in New York include candlelight vigils for those who have succumbed to the illness, lobbying efforts for more scientific research into the AIDS virus and potential cures, and education programs in schools, universities, prisons and other institutions to promote prevention awareness.

You May Like

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid