Doing it the IWES Way: National HIV Testing Day 2019
For the past nine years, Walgreens and Greater Than AIDS have partnered with health departments, community-based organizations, and clinics across the US to provide confidential, FREE HIV testing, counseling, and health referrals at designated Walgreens locations. This year National HIV Testing Day was held on June 27th with the theme of “Doing It My Way” that emphasized and celebrated the importance of why individuals choose to get tested while providing new and returning clients with information on other options to prevent and treat HIV like PrEP. With over 260 sites participating in National HIV Testing Day this year, the day was not only geared towards addressing the need for HIV testing, but also highlighting the importance of centering the conversation of HIV health disparities in our homes, churches, and communities.
At IWES our HIV Testing & Prevention (HTP) team planned and prepared a month in advance for National HIV Testing Day. We joined the Louisiana Office of Public Health’s statewide campaign START IT! Louisiana, that focuses on encouraging Louisianans to start the conversation about sexual health and healthy relationships. Additionally, through creative social media posts and extensive community outreach in the Gentilly community, we actively engaged businesses and community members to spread the word about the upcoming testing event. This year, the HTP team was inspired to create artsy safe sex kits to pass out at the event, and we crafted six sexual health baskets as a giveaway for people that received an onsite HIV test. The biggest draw for the testing event was tickets to the Essence Festival, which we presented to one enthusiastic and grateful individual at the end of the day!
Although the forecast indicated that it would rain, National HIV Testing Day was a highly successful and lively event that started and ended with a beautiful and glorious sunny day. We were thrilled to see that over half of the individuals tested were newcomers. With the help and support of everyone, including the Walgreens and IWES staff, our Team had the opportunity to test forty-seven people. Every individual tested walked out of the counseling session with information on PrEP, partner testing, linkage to care for family or members, and HIV/STI literature. Additionally, many of the newcomers were so impressed by the process and appreciated the confidentiality so much that they also referred family and friends for testing.
Our Team is particularly proud and thankful to every IWES staff member that assisted us with the event, and for providing us with their positive, fun-filled energy throughout the day. We graciously tip our hats off to the hosting Walgreens location, Gentilly Walgreens, as well. The dynamic management team and the entire staff were highly amenable, motivated, and willing to help our staff through the entire process. We are especially appreciative for the partnership that we have established and look forward to greater events in the future.
To see more from our successful National HIV Testing Day you can check out event photos and exclusive highlighted videos on our IWES and PAUSE Instagram pages. Additionally, keep up with us on social for upcoming events, dates, and sites for FREE HIV testing. In the pursuit of a healthier and fulfilling lifestyle, we encourage you to get an annual HIV test, and to take charge of your health!