organization will present the testing van to SAAF.
San Antonio, Texas (September 24, 2012)—For the first time in San Antonio history, a mobile HIV testing van will be traveling the streets of San Antonio and Bexar County. This development is due to the collaboration with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global HIV/AIDS organization, based out of California. AHF representatives will be arriving in San Antonio to view the arrival of the van and formally present the mobile unit to SAAF. The presentation will take place during a press conference on Monday, September 24th, 11AM at the SAAF offices at 818 East Grayson Street. Dr. Thomas Schlenker, Director of Health, Metro Health and various government officials will be on hand to help celebrate this historic addition to public health efforts in this community.
AHF delegates who will be in attendance to present the mobile testing van to SAAF include Whitney Engeran-Cordova, Senior Director of the Public Health Division for AIDS Healthcare Foundation, joined by Adam Ouderkirk, AHF Regional Director (San Francisco), and Bret Camp, AHF Texas Regional Director (Ft. Worth).
A challenge that San Antonio faces is that current HIV testing resources are located centrally and many at-risk persons live outside of the downtown area and do not have easy access to transportation. David Ewell, SAAF’s Executive Director, says, “the mobile HIV testing van will allow SAAF’s prevention team to bring testing to all corners of San Antonio. Our van will help us to reach more people, more efficiently, and earlier to significantly improve the length and quality of their lives.”
No other organization in San Antonio has a mobile HIV testing van. The van has 2 private, air-conditioned rooms and is wrapped with San Antonio’s own, vibrant design that will be very eye-catching and draw attention to the message, “Are you positive, you’re negative? Get tested here”.
“AHF is excited to join in this new partnership with San Antonio AIDS Foundation and unveil our first collaboration in this innovative community outreach effort: this wonderful free mobile HIV testing van—seen publicly for the first time here today,” Whitney Engeran-Cordova, Senior Director of the Public Health Division for AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “AHF previously—and successfully—deployed similar testing vans in our programs in California, Washington and Florida, and we’ve seen firsthand what a dramatic impact these vans have on access to testing, particularly for many hard-to-reach populations. As part of this collaboration, AHF will provide SAAF with free HIV testing kits for use on the van and we will also work closely with SAAF staff to identify and achieve testing goals. We plan to put some miles on this van around San Antonio over the next two years and hope this is the beginning of a long and successful partnership with SAAF.” Mr. Engeran-Cordova will be joined by Adam Ouderkirk, AHF Regional Director (San Francisco), and Bret Camp, AHF Texas Regional Director (Ft. Worth) to present the mobile testing van to SAAF. Dr. Thomas Schlenker, Director of Health, San Antonio Metropolitan Health District and various government officials will be on hand to help celebrate this historic addition to public health efforts in this community.
SAAF has been providing free HIV testing since it first became available in the late 1980s. SAAF offers a rapid, less than 20 minutes, oral test. HIV/AIDS in San Antonio, as compared to other metropolitan areas nationally, is “late to care”, i.e. people are diagnosed as HIV infected late in the course of their disease. Jill Rips, SAAF’s Deputy Executive Director, says, “one in three HIV-infected Texans is diagnosed with AIDS within one year of the HIV diagnosis. These statistics tell us that we need to be reaching people much earlier to get them into treatment, slow the progression and prevent their partners from becoming infected.”