FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 22, 2020
CONTACT: Megan R. Smith, Brownstone, [email protected], 215.410.9879
Brothers United Launches 15-Day Campaign to
Increase HIV Awareness Among Black and Latinx Men, and Encourage HIV Home Self Testing
Public Health Awareness Campaign Underscores Urgency for Black and Latinx Men to Take Charge of Their Health, Get Tested and Know their Status
PHILADELPHIA, PA, June 22, 2020 — Brothers United, a project of AccessMatters, has launched Life As We Know It, a public health awareness campaign to encourage Black and Latinx men in Philadelphia, ages 18-45, to know their HIV status confidentially and in the privacy of their homes, with FREE HIV Home Self Testing Kits.
Over the last few months, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has made it difficult for people to access in-person HIV testing. To date, the City of Philadelphia Department of Public Health’s AIDS Activities Coordinating Office has been the leading agency to advance home HIV screening with the HIV Home Self Testing Kit, ensuring that more people are able to get an accurate diagnosis and receive the education and treatment they need. The City is now partnering with AccessMatters to empower people to know their status in privacy and with confidentiality by using the HIV Home Self Testing Kit and connect them with related support services.
Running now through June 30, 2020, the Life As We Know It campaign is led by AccessMatters’ Brothers United project which links African-American and Latinx men – including men who have sex with men, high-risk heterosexual men such as people who inject drugs and their sexual partners – to treatment, education, and ongoing support. Brothers United also focuses on raising awareness about living with and preventing the spread of HIV. Throughout the past several years, Brothers United has been committed to providing counseling, HIV testing and STD screening through various community outreach initiatives – including deploying mobile units several days a week during the hours of 10:00p.m. and 2:00a.m. and by providing onsite counseling, HIV testing, and STD screening.
With Stay at Home orders still in play, Life As We Know It and the FREE HIV Home Self Testing Kits are a critical and timely initiative to engage men most at risk.
“We know stigma and confidentiality often present major access barriers for people when they are seeking HIV testing services, and we hope to combat those concerns by offering HIV testing in the privacy of one’s home or other private space,” said Melissa Weiler Gerber, AccessMatters’ President & CEO. “Self-testing allows people to get tested for HIV at home or in another private space of their choosing while still following COVID-19 guidance and social distancing practices. We are proud to launch this campaign to expand the number of people tested, and encourage Black and Latinx men across Philadelphia with the core message: yes, while the world is changing in front of our eyes and this is Life As We Know It, you can still safely get tested and know your HIV status.”
As the campaign communicates, to request the FREE HIV Home Self Testing Kit, all one has to do is text GOTEST to 66476 or call the AccessMatters Information Hotline at (215) 985-3300. Recipients must live in Philadelphia, be over the age of 16, and can not have received a HIV Home Self Testing Kit in the last six months.
Access to confidential support services is critical when using the FREE HIV Home Self Testing Kit; and as a result, AccessMatters also provides linkage to care that includes:
- Step-by-step support through the testing process via telehealth. When an individual connects with a trained counselor to secure the HIV Home Self Testing Kit via text or by calling AccessMatters’ Information Hotline, they will receive a second call from AccessMatters within two business days detailing what to expect in the mail. The client will also be provided with a direct contact to call when they receive the test and offered a walkthrough of the entire testing process. AccessMatters will then facilitate a second touch point with each client within 7-10 business days to confirm receipt of the HIV Home Self Testing Kit and/or when the client has taken the test. If the client has not taken the test, AccessMaters will walk them through completing the test.
- Post-test counseling and referral services. Once the client has taken the test, AccessMatters will provide post-test counseling and referral services which includes connection and linkages to other social and clinical services they may need. (Note: all testing and counseling services are provided by a trained HIV Test Counselor.)
- Connection to a medical provider if the result is positive. In addition to counseling, social and clinical services, clients are provided with AccessMatters’ Information Hotline number to call if they have additional sexual and reproductive healthcare questions or concerns.
Components of the Life As We Know It campaign are being executed digitally, with ads on Jack’d, Plenty of Fish (POF), and Grindr, along with targeted Facebook, Instagram and Twitter ads and inclusion in key community newspapers. The Life As We Know It campaign video can be viewed here. As part of National HIV Testing Day, on Saturday, June 27 from 1:00p.m.-2:00p.m., AccessMatters’ Brothers United project will host a virtual event focused on normalizing at-home testing, reducing stigma, and empowering Black and Latinx men, who are at higher risk of HIV, to know their status.
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AccessMatters innovates, empowers, and works to equalize access to sexual and reproductive health care for teens and adults in need, reaching over 115,000 people annually. For more information about AccessMatters programs, visit www.AccessMatters.org, @AccessMatters4U on Twitter, and @AccessMatters on Facebook.
Brothers United is a project of AccessMatters. This project is supported by the Grant, NU65PS004720, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For more information about Brothers United, visit www.accessmatters.org, @BrothersUnited215 on Instagram, and @BrothersUnitedProject on Facebook.