Community members can learn their HIV status in as little as 20 minutes during free screenings on June 27 in recognition of National HIV Testing Day.
ONE Charlotte Health Alliance — a partnership between Mecklenburg County Public Health, Atrium Health and Novant Health — will offer rapid screening tests on the Alliance’s mobile health units, which will be stationed at the Hal Marshall Building in uptown Charlotte and Walgreens at the corner of Freedom Drive and Ashley Road.
Participants won’t need an appointment for the screening process, which takes about 20 minutes. However, blood work will be required to verify the results. If needed, participants can also receive educational materials and case management services.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report Charlotte-area as home to one of the highest rates in the nation for new HIV infections. More than 6,600 Charlotteans are living with HIV, according to Mecklenburg County Public Health. In 2017, African Americans accounted for 66% of new infections, with men making up 80% of those cases.
“Typically, African Americans don’t access testing services for reasons like medical mistrust and access issues,” said Matt Jenkins, HIV/STD community services health manager for Mecklenburg County. “The data shows that [ages] 25 to 29 are our highest rates of infections among African Americans, so we encourage them to get tested.”
The Alliance has identified HIV and STD prevention as one of the top nine health issues ranked in Mecklenburg County. Although HIV infection rates among adolescents and adults declined by 18% between 2014 and 2016, an average of 250 to 300 new HIV infections are reported annually. ONE Charlotte Health Alliance intends to address barriers to health care by improving access to health services and resources in the communities that need it most.
“The prevalence of HIV in Charlotte is highest in zip codes with limited access to specialized health care,” said Dr. Rhett Brown of Novant Health Midtown Family Medicine. “Our goal is to make sure that people directly affected are connected with the right resources and to educate our communities about ways to reduce risk of exposure to HIV.”
ONE Charlotte Health Alliance’s free screenings support Mecklenburg County’s Getting to Zero Mecklenburg initiative, a community plan to reduce new cases of HIV in Mecklenburg County.
National HIV Testing Day screenings
Date: Thursday, June 27
- Hal Marshall Building parking lot, 700 N. Tryon St.
- Walgreens parking lot, 3251 Freedom Dr.
Time: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Additional info: No appointment required
Katrina Louis is managing editor of qcitymetro.com who can always find something to do in Charlotte. She’s an offline hustler (and has the shirt to prove it) but when online, find her on Instagram and Twitter.