DMV, DOH Partner Against HIV

By Chris Gordon
|  Wednesday, Oct 6, 2010  |  Updated 6:11 AM EDT
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The D.C. government has partnered with a non-profit to offer free HIV testing with an incentive at the Penn Branch DMV in Southeast.

Chris Gordon

The D.C. government has partnered with a non-profit to offer free HIV testing with an incentive at the Penn Branch DMV in Southeast.

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The Penn Branch Department of Motor Vehicles in southeast Washington is providing the office space, the D.C. Department of Health is supplying the HIV test kits and a private partner, Gilead  Sciences, is giving a quarter of a million dollars for a yearlong program that could screen 3,000 people who might not otherwise be tested.

The pilot program is the first of its kind in the country.

"We based the need on the fact that D.C. has a high rate, especially in wards 7 and 8," said Family and Medical Counseling Services Chief Operating Officer Angela Fulwood Wood. "So we need to find screening areas like the DMV."

Money orders of up to $15 are given as an incentive for people to consent to being tested. 

A lollypop-size swab is used to for the oral test. It's fast and painless, and you get the results in 20 minutes.

If an HIV test comes back positive, the Community Education Group located right across the street from the DMV offers immediate help.

"The first thing we do is give you counseling and get you medical care," said Tony Young, of the Community Education Group.

In the first day of the pilot program at the Penn Branch DMV, 75 people were tested for HIV. That's more than organizers anticipated. If the program is a success over the coming year it could be available at all DMV branch offices in Washington, and offered in other states that are monitoring its progress.


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