Our testing and community engagement teams are gearing up for busy a summer. Armed with information about PrEP, HIV and STI testing services, flyers for group events and hundreds of thousands of condoms, the teams are hitting the streets to meet our communities at festivals, fairs, marches and other community gatherings.
“It’s a busy time for us—the season goes from Carnaval at the end of May to Castro Street Fair at the beginning of October,” said Tony Bradford, associate director of community engagement at San Francisco AIDS Foundation. “But it’s so important for us to be out and about in the community during the summer, and we’re thrilled that we’re supported and welcomed by so many groups and people.”
The number of condoms distributed during Pride—and throughout the summer—is an indication of how busy the outreach and testing teams are and how many people are served from June to August. The teams expect to distribute nearly 40,000 condoms during Pride events, and more than 100,000 over the course of the summer.
“As you can imagine, the need for condoms increases a lot during Pride month,” said Brittany Maksimovic, manager of testing services. “We supply all of our community engagement teams with condoms, as well as more than 70 venues across San Francisco including bars, clubs and more.”
Testing services for HIV and STIs are also in high demand during the summer months, said Maksimovic, with noticeable bumps in demand after events like Up Your Alley, Folsom Street Fair, and San Francisco Pride. “People are out there enjoying themselves, and they may need to get tested and treated afterwards,” she said. “We’re here to help with that. Or to help with regular, routine check-ups, too.”
“We provide services out in the community, through our mobile testing unit, because many people don’t have time to go to a clinic,” said Greg Ford, lab technician for the testing team. “They may feel too intimidated to access services at a traditional clinic. Or they maybe don’t feel like the Castro is a place for them. People come to the mobile testing unit because they can get tested at their convenience, and feel comfortable knowing that it’s a safe, welcoming environment.”
This summer, the team will provide HIV, STI, and hepatitis C testing and linkage to services at events including Carnaval, the DREAAM Project roller skating party, the Trans March after-party at El Rio and The Eagle’s queer Latinx happy hour.
They will also provide services at Club Papi (a space for the Latinx community), at the National HIV Testing Day event sponsored by Walgreens, with The Gubbio Project serving street-based folks in the Mission, and for the leather and kink community at Mr. S Leather.
“I always look forward to testing at new venues,” said Alejandro Alvarez-Bautista, testing coordinator with the mobile testing team. “We recently did testing at Affirmation, which is a conference for the LGBTQ Mormon community. We saw a lot of people—young people who were with their parents, and older people who were just coming out in their church.”
“We really try to be at places all around the community,” added Alvarez-Bautista. “Come find us out there!”
Follow @testmeSF on Twitter to see when the mobile testing unit is coming to a neighborhood near you. Find out about other San Francisco AIDS Foundation locations where you can get tested for HIV and STIs.
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