An innovative program—called Testing Together—is being launched this week at AIDS Project RI in conjunction with National HIV Testing Day—Wednesday, June 27th. Now couples and individuals can get free rapid HIV tests at AIDS Project RI.
The program challenges conventional practices in the United States where HIV testing is usually private and for individuals only.
Testing Together allows couples to come in for testing together and get their HIV test results minutes later, while sitting side-by-side. At most clinics, a person who asks if his or her partner can be there when learning the test result is denied because of patient confidentiality concerns. As part of Testing Together, individuals provide verbal consent that they are willing to go through the entire HIV testing process together, including receiving results at the same time and in the same room.
“Getting an HIV test can be difficult for some people—and telling your partner the results can be even more difficult,” said AIDS Project RI executive director Thomas Bertrand. “Testing Together provides an opportunity for partners to be tested together, and get their test results together, with a trained counselor present to help talk about the results. Testing Together and receiving results together can start an ongoing healthy conversation between partners about HIV, their relationship, and building a protection plan together.”
AIDS Project RI counselors are trained on how to deliver test results, with particular emphasis on how to tell partners the most difficult news: one partner has the virus and the other doesn’t. With these so-called “HIV discordant” couples, counselors have a great opportunity to reduce the spread of the virus by helping the couple learn ways to protect the uninfected partner, primarily through correct and consistent condom use and making sure people with HIV are getting appropriate medical care. Counselors also talk with couples about what to do next, including agreements they may want to make with each other about sex and health.
To mark National HIV Testing Day, AIDS Project RI will be providing rapid HIV testing for indivduals and couples on Wednesday, June 27th from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm at its 404 Wickenden St., Providence, RI, location. Testing is available on a walk-in or appointment basis on that day. To make an appointment call 401-207-8377 or email email@example.com.
Testing is also regularly available every Tuesday from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm on a walk-in basis, as well as any day of the week from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm on an appointment basis.
When possible, couples are encouraged to make an appointment for testing, although it is not required.
Bertrand stresses, “AIDS Project RI welcomes all couples, straight and gay, who may be in new or long-term relationships to consider coming in for testing. The testing is painless, free, and anonymous, and all of the counselors are well-trained and very friendly. It’s never been easier to find out your status. Knowing your HIV status can provide you with a great peace-of mind. According to the national data, nearly one in five people who are infected with HIV don’t know their status, and many people get infected from their primary partners.”
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