Sinai Hospital’s Rapid HIV program is helping more Baltimore citizens learn their status.
The program, which allows those in Sinai ER-7 to have a quick free test to learn whether they are HIV positive , recently received funding to continue for another three years. The program began in 2008.
“The program as a whole is testing more people than expected,” says Penny Green, Rapid HIV Program Coordinator. There have been about 8,193 people tested as of November 30, 2010 and 69 of those were HIV positive. When people are HIV positive, the sooner they learn their status, the sooner they can begin treatment and increase their life expectancy, as well as reduce the chance of spreading the disease to someone else.
Many people are reassured by the results of being negative, and Green follows up with those who are positive, connecting them to the services offered at Sinai. Those who are positive are also tested for syphilis .
While there are other sites in the city offering free HIV testing, the program is a convenient way to offer the test, especially for those who would not have sought out testing otherwise.
“There’s a gap in routine testing and we are meeting that need,” says Carine Chen-McLaughlin, case management coordinator. “There’s no stigma and it’s less threatening to people, as they are already here.”
To find additional information on free HIV testing in Baltimore, click here .