WASHINGTON (WUSA9)- Members of TeenAIDS-PeerCorps stopped people on the streets near Metro Center to educate them on HIV/AIDS testing, as well as provide Orasure test kits for teenagers and young adults to take.
TeenAIDS-PeerCorps is a non-profit organization started by Harvard trained educator Dr. John Chittick. The group's goal is to educate the public on HIV/AIDS testing options, as well as help end the stigma against AIDS and AIDS testing. TA-PC uses over the counter Orascure tests kits. These work by testing for HIV/AIDS virus in the saliva of the mouth.
According to the CDC, 25% of new U.S. HIV/AIDS cases occur among teens and college youths. So, TA-PC specializes in targeting the youth population from ages 13-23.They are the first group to administer HIV/AIDS tests in public, and lack of confidentiality in the way the results are given has led to some controversy surrounding this group. In fact, after a public HIV test event in Virginia Beach, Va. this spring, TeenAIDS-PeerCorps was asked not to return.
Dr. Chittick stands by his group's methods. He explains that, "Currently 90% of youth refuse or choose not to go to hospitals, clinics or doctor's offices to be tested... So we are bringing the expensive tests to the streets for free testing, to demystify a little known process and encourage partners to get tested."
On Tuesday, TA-PC came to the Metro Center area to demonstrate and provide free HIV/AIDS testing. As Dr. Chittick stopped people on the street;some were strongly opposed to the idea of public HIV/AIDS testing on youths, while many more felt that this was a great way to spread awareness.
The first person to volunteer was medical technician-in-training, Ashley Bryant. While discussing her reasons for being tested Bryant explained that, "DC is the worst for HIV and AIDS, so I get tested every chance I can." The twenty-four year old was happy to be tested in public, and as she waited for her test results, more people volunteered.
An out of town family site-seeing in DC stopped to inquire about the stand. Their 15 year old son Kaden decided to get tested. His mother, Doris Miller, signed a consent waver for Kaden. She commented, "If he feels comfortable doing this, we support him, it sends a great message."
Before administering the test Dr. Chittick, along with his group of interns, educated volunteers about HIV prevention and the test itself. In the chance that a volunteer were to test positive, they are urged to get a second blood test confirming results. From there, they are advised to start medical treatment immediately.