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

Syrian Rebels Poised for Anti-Russia Collaboration

Forty-one insurgent groups issue joint statement vowing retaliation for Russian air offensives More

Political Maneuver Revives Export-Import Bank's Chances

Parliamentary tactic gets bill out of committee, but it faces opposition in the Senate More

Beijing Warns US on S. China Sea Patrols

Warning follows news reports Thursday that US military is planning to sail warships close to artificial islands Beijing has been aggressively building More

This forum has been closed.
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.
House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdrawsi
Jim Malone
October 09, 2015 12:32 AM
The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

VOA Blogs