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

Multimedia Ferguson, Missouri Streets Calm After Days of Violence

Police official says authorities responded to fewer incidents, noting there were no shootings, Molotov cocktails or fires More

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

For Chanthy Sok, rap infused with Cambodian melodies is a way to pay respect to the survivors of the victims of Khmer Rouge genocide More

Study: Our Life with Neanderthals Was No Brief Affair

Scientists discover thousands of years of overlap between modern humans and their shorter, stockier cousins 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.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls for Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid