Nebraska Group Receives Three-Year Grant To Provide HIV Tests
The Nebraska-based Central Health Center has received a three-year, $160,000 federal grant from the Title X program to integrate HIV testing into routine visits, the Grand Island Independent reports. According to the Independent, the grant was issued in response to CDC's recommendations for routine HIV testing.
The grant will affect CHC's clinics in Grand Island, Kearney and Lexington. According to Laura Urbanec, executive director of CHC, the center received the grant because of its large service area and its ability to implement projects. She added that the funds will be used to purchase HIV tests, hire and train staff, obtain educational materials and update data reporting systems. Prior to the grant, CHC offered HIV testing upon request through its Counseling, Testing and Referral program. HIV tests are now conducted as part of CHC's routine visits at the clinics. The tests take about 10 minutes, and the results are included in a patient's medical records.
According to Urbanec, because CHC is not a no-cost clinic, the test was added to the sliding fee scale and is provided at a minimal cost to patients. Since the tests have been implemented, about 600 people have taken tests, and fewer than half of people offered the tests have declined them, the Independent reports. Those who test HIV-positive can obtain access to treatment and support groups sooner, Urbanec said.
Susan Goodman, community outreach coordinator at CHC, said that people sometimes hesitate to receive HIV tests because they are afraid of testing positive or do not want to be seen as sexually promiscuous. She added that making the test routine might make people more comfortable and reduce associated stigma (Gardner, Grand Island Independent, 3/9).