Disciples News Service

Mobile HIV Prevention and Testing Unit Rolls in the Wabash Valley

Terre Haute, Indiana – April 14, 2009 – The Disciples HIV/AIDS Ministry and Wabash Valley People Attempting To Help, Inc. announced today a strategy to dramatically increase the availability of Rapid HIV testing for underserved communities in western central Indiana via a mobile HIV prevention and testing van. The announcement, made at Human Rights Day at Indiana State University, is part of a multi-pronged strategy to expand HIV/AIDS awareness and testing in communities throughout the state. This specific program will target Clay, Parke, Putnam, Sullivan, Vermillion, and Vigo counties.

"The first step in halting the spread of HIV/AIDS is through education and to ensure that as many people as possible know their status and are counseled on proper care and prevention," said Volunteer Director Jody Grieb "We stand ready to assist any community health center or clinic as they expand the availability of Rapid HIV testing in underserved communities."

To cover the gap in testing services Grieb ‘unveiled’ a mobile testing van. When one participant asked to see the van Grieb gestured over his shoulder to a large parking lot and noted, "It’s over there". To keep the testing process as anonymous as possible the van has no identifying marks or symbols. ‘DEBI’, as the van is called, can provide testing services anywhere they are needed. Grieb noted that anyone request testing by calling the Disciples HIV/AIDS Ministry offices at 812-232-1381 extension 343 or 888-346-2631 or online at: www.discipleshomemissions.org/aidsministry.

The two clinics currently providing rapid HIV testing are the Vigo County Health Department Clinic in Terre Haute and the Parke County Family Health and Help Center in Rockville. Grieb told participants today that all community health clinics should expand access to Rapid HIV testing including the Student Health Center at Indiana State University.

"As part of this initiative, I am encouraging every community health center and clinic to begin or increase their Rapid HIV testing," said Grieb. "If we are going to reduce incidence of HIV/AIDS we must have this fast, effective testing technology readily available to everyone." Grieb also encouraged houses of worship to begin provide HIV testing at their locations as well.

Grieb noted that at the end of 2006, an estimated 1,106,400 persons (95% confidence interval 1,056,400-1,156,400) in the United States were living with HIV infection, with 21% undiagnosed.

The Rapid test is important to slowing the spread of HIV because it overcomes a major obstacle in HIV testing. Getting the results in 15-20 minutes means people no longer have to wait one or two weeks and return to the testing site to get their results.

The test requires less than a single drop of blood from the fingertip. The fingertip is cleaned with alcohol and pricked with a needle to get a small drop of blood. Blood is transferred to a small plastic vial containing a solution. The test device is then inserted into the vial. The results can be read in as little as 20 minutes.

Grieb noted that since PATH began testing in October of 2008, ninety-nine percent of people who took the Rapid HIV test have received their results. Grieb cited a National Institute of Health study that estimates as many as forty percent of those who have a traditional blood draw test never return for the results because it requires a two week wait.

Grieb noted that of approximately 750 people his organization has tested in the Wabash Valley since October, three percent have tested positive for HIV antibodies.

The Disciples HIV/AIDS Ministry is a network of Disciples Home Missions, the enabling and coordinating division of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the area of congregational program and mission in North America. Wabash Valley PATH is a community based organization in Terre Haute and is the Indiana liaison partner of the Disciples HIV/AIDS Ministry. Online at: www.wvpath.org

Contact: Jody Grieb
Phone: 812.243.6402