CDC’s New Program Helps Thrive DC Provide HIV Self-Testing

In 2007, Washington, DC was confronting a severe HIV epidemic. In a city of about 500,000 adult residents, there were 1,311 newly reported HIV cases in a year and 3.0% of adults and 6.3% of black men were living with HIV. Since then, DC has worked hard to end the HIV epidemic, and reduced new cases 79% by 2019  (DC Center on Aids Research).

However, DC still has the highest HIV rate in the country, with 39.2 infected per 100,000 people (CDC.gov). And although 90% of people with HIV in DC know their status, there is still a significant number who don’t know their status and unintentionally pass on HIV to others.

To help end the HIV epidemic in DC, Thrive DC is partnering with the CDC Foundation to reach the hardest to reach populations – those who are least connected to healthcare, and who have the highest distrust of institutions. 

Thrive DC offers onsite HIV Self-Testing kits to any clients who are curious about their status, and connects people who test positive with medical partner organizations for more testing and counseling. We also host awareness events, and provide 1:1 counseling sessions to people concerned about their health.

Working together, we will end the spread of HIV in the District.

The CDC Foundation released the following press release on their new program, “Enhancing Community Capacity to Support HIV Self-Testing”:

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in eight people living with HIV in the United States is undiagnosed, and more than one third of all new HIV infections are transmitted by people who do not know they have HIV. HIV self-tests, which can be done at home or in other private settings, are a confidential way for people to learn their HIV status, and this knowledge can help connect them to lifesaving prevention tools and treatment. To ensure more people have access to self-testing, the CDC Foundation announced more than $5 million in total support to 53 community-based organizations (CBOs) to establish and expand HIV self-testing programs within their communities.

Because of COVID-19 lockdowns and closures, HIV self-testing increased over the past two years, and it has proven to be a cost-effective way to make HIV testing more accessible in regions where healthcare is often a challenge—including rural, traditionally underserved and stigmatized communities. However, historic racial, ethnic and geographic disparities in healthcare coverage still exist, and there are many communities and populations that still do not have access to HIV testing services, including many of those most vulnerable to HIV.

CBOs—such as faith-based organizations, community health clinics, advocacy organizations, AIDS service organizations and others—are essential partners in HIV prevention and care and can help to expand self-testing in the communities that need it most. These vital organizations already complement the work of state and local health departments by offering health services to people not fully benefiting from existing HIV testing and prevention options. As trusted resources in their communities, CBOs can share important health information in ways that overcome stigma, misinformation and fear about HIV.

With CDC Foundation support, the CBOs funded in this effort will build upon their existing HIV work and establish new, culturally relevant self-testing programs that are tailored to their communities and include science-based information that is easy to understand. In addition, the CBOs will partner with neighborhood businesses, schools and religious institutions to communicate the importance of knowing one’s HIV status and enlist the help of respected local spokespersons in their outreach efforts.

Beyond financial support, the CDC Foundation is partnering with Community Education Group, a West Virginia-based HIV prevention-focused organization, to provide technical assistance, capacity-building support, and HIV self-tests to the funded CBOs.

“Self-tests can get more people tested by reaching them outside of traditional clinical settings,” said Judy Monroe, MD, president and CEO of the CDC Foundation. “Providing people with broader access to self-testing is a powerful tool that provides essential information to make informed decisions about HIV prevention and treatment.”

This project will expand the reach and impact of HIV self-testing programs through collaborative partnerships with medical clinics and local and national organizations while advancing the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (2022–2025).

To learn more, see list of organizations approved for funding through this program.

Link to Press Release