Stopping the spread of HIV is a monumental task. It is not about money but about community awareness and policy change. An HIV test costs $8-12, but because of restrictive institutional policies, the real cost is $60-100. This cost, regardless of whether it is an out-of-pocket or free-clinic cost, is a societal burden, and a money-maker for the healthcare and HIV industry. These policies are also barriers themselves to testing, as they foster a societal dependency that denies true anonymity (you have to show up) and is intimidating.
TOGETHER, WE CAN DO BETTER!
Here is what The Mosaic Initiative is doing to support this:
- We are encouraging people to go to a public health clinic or a medical provider, ask for an HIV-test, and then write about the experience for our blog and website. By raising awareness to the current system, we can identify the real barriers that need to be addressed.
- We are raising awareness to the fact that self-administered HIV-screening technology is a reality. There are many groups who support approval of these for "over-the-counter" sales, but there is also resistance from AIDS organizations and the FDA. We are actively involved with FDA, CDC and NIH to address these concerns. The bottom-line, according to research, is that there is only one way to know whether a community can safely engage in home-based, self-testing, and that is by trying it. We do know that the status-quo is a losing proposition.
- We collect signatures from people to submit to the appropriate approval bodies for changes in the restrictions of HIV-tests.
- We are participating on a national panel to develop community-wide protocols for "Test and Treat". It is a slow bureaucratic process targeting two cities (Bronx, NY and Washington, DC). Meanwhile, HIV spreads...
- We are engaging churches and community groups (primarily in DuPage County, IL) to hold HIV-testing and education events. St. Paul Lutheran Church/Wheaton, Wheaton City Hall, West Chicago School District 33, and Loyola Medical School are some of the partners who have taken up the request. In each case, it has shown that when we all get tested, all truly are welcome. It also affirms that we are more free to ask others to get tested when we have done so ourselves.
- As possible, we acquire sample tests from overseas as demonstrations of what is possible. You can see a demonstration video of this on the website homepage.
Our belief is that with constant pressure through awareness, advocacy and education, we will have significant changes to accessing HIV-tests. When that day comes, we stand ready to be a voice for action using the power of personal testimony and the internet to raise our awareness of HIV in our world to levels never seen and, in doing so, truly transforming the world to be more empowered to take on other issues.