March 29, 2000
Johns Hopkins and Sisters Together and Reaching Inc. (STAR) have teamed up to offer Baltimoreans free HIV urine testing from a mobile van. The van will operate five days and evenings per week and patrol areas at high risk for HIV.
"In Baltimore, AIDS is the number one cause of death among people 15 to 40 years old," says Joseph Margolick, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of molecular microbiology and immunology at Hopkins. "And between 5,000 and 6,000 people in Baltimore are HIV-positive but don't realize it. Many of these people would benefit a lot by being tested for HIV and getting into treatment, which nowadays can be very effective."
The van's operators offer free, confidential, HIV urine testing. Results are given out two weeks after urine is obtained. Individuals who test positive (and have been infected with HIV in the past year) will be eligible for a study of whether early treatment will prevent and/or repair damage to the immune system caused by HIV infection. Individuals who are eligible for the study will receive the latest drug therapy and free HIV care and treatment at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, as well as reimbursement for transportation. Those not eligible for this study will be referred for appropriate health care at local hospitals.
The new testing project is the latest part of a two-year Hopkins initiative that offers free HIV testing to numerous groups and organizations. These include churches, shelters, community-based organizations and drug treatment centers. Hopkins has also offered HIV testing at health fairs and has made concerted efforts to reach out to the Hispanic and deaf communities. Information on free HIV testing is available by calling 410-614-1921.
STAR is a Christian-based, nonprofit, community organization that provides spiritual and emotional support to HIV-infected and affected people and their families. STAR's Nia van is funded by the Centers for Disease Control. Johns Hopkins' free HIV urine testing and the Acute HIV Infection and Early Disease Research Project are funded by the National Institutes of Health.