HRC Foundation Launches National HIV Self-Testing Initiative: “Wellness in Action”

by Jared Todd

HRC’s HIV & Health Equity program collaborates with CVS Health® to distribute 3,000 test kits to community-based organizations, focused on outreach to marginalized communities

WASHINGTON - Today, on the heels of National HIV Testing Day, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, the educational arm of the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization, announces the expansion of the first-ever nationwide HIV self-testing initiative, Wellness in Action.

CVS Health will support the initiative by helping fund and distribute 3,000 self-testing kits to specific community-based partners over the year, centered around reaching communities disproportionately impacted by HIV. The Wellness in Action initiative prioritizes bridging the gap between HIV testing and care by offering navigation services and education with community-based organizations. Beyond testing, select MinuteClinic at CVS locations will work with an individual’s health benefit plan to provide access to follow-up health services such as PrEP consultations.

First launched in 2021, the distribution of self-testing kits empowers people to learn their status and take control of their sexual health without having to visit a medical provider, which may be difficult for some individuals. HIV testing is usually done with a doctor, in a hospital, or at a community health clinic. However, due to a lack of access to adequate healthcare and HIV stigma rooted in fear, racism, homophobia, and transphobia, marginalized populations often do not receive the testing or care they need.

Knowing your status through self-testing is game-changing for so many LGBTQ+ Black and Latiné folks who have been historically ostracized from receiving HIV testing and care with medical providers. If we truly want to end the HIV epidemic, we need to increase our outreach and support to the folks who need it most, and that’s exactly what this self-testing initiative does. We’re excited to collaborate with CVS Health, and I look forward to seeing Wellness in Action’s positive impact and the expansion of the initiative in years to come.”

Kelley Robinson, Human Rights Campaign President

CVS Health is committed to advancing health equity in our communities by improving trust, health care access, and quality of health for every population we serve. This collaboration will support our shared goal of ending the HIV epidemic through increased testing and prevention.”

Joel Helle, Vice President of Physician Services, CVS Specialty

Through this self-testing initiative, we’re doing exactly what has been needed for too long: meeting folks where they are. One of our primary goals is to dismantle the healthcare stigma perpetuated by systemic racism and discrimination against LGBTQ+ people for decades. Self-testing gives people who may not have the time, money, or inclination to visit a doctor or health center the opportunity to know their status without fearing discrimination or stigma. When we focus on providing services and care directly to those who otherwise don’t have access, we bring ourselves closer to finally ending the HIV epidemic.”

Torrian L. Baskerville, Human Rights Campaign Director of HIV & Health Equity

The following organizations will work with the individuals receiving the tests to provide HIV education, preventive care, and treatment as needed:

  • Arianna's Center (Fort Lauderdale, FL)

  • TruEvolution (Riverside, CA)

  • Abounding Prosperity (Dallas, TX)

  • Thrive SS (Atlanta, GA)

  • Chicago Black Gay Men's Caucus (Chicago, IL)

Current data confirms that the availability of HIV self-tests in the United States would not only increase HIV awareness but would also expand access to testing among communities who would not otherwise get an HIV test in traditional healthcare settings. It is recommended that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once as part of routine healthcare and once every three months for gay and bisexual men.

Marginalized populations, including LGBTQ+ people, face societal and economic barriers that prevent them from accessing adequate healthcare, with Black and Latine communities being hit the hardest. 1 in 2 Black gay and bisexual cisgender men and 1 in 4 Latine gay and bisexual cisgender men will be diagnosed with HIV in their lifetime. According to a 2021 CDC study in seven U.S. cities, 42 percent of transgender women interviewed had HIV, with 62 percent of Black transgender women and 35 percent of Latine transgender women already living with HIV.

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation is the educational arm of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) people. Through its programs, the HRC Foundation seeks to make transformational change in the everyday lives of LGBTQ+ people, shedding light on inequity and deepening the public’s understanding of LGBTQ+ issues, with a clear focus on advancing transgender and racial justice. Its work has transformed the landscape for more than 15 million workers, 11 million students, 1 million clients in the adoption and foster care system and so much more. The HRC Foundation provides direct consultation and technical assistance to institutions and communities, driving the advancement of inclusive policies and practices; it builds the capacity of future leaders and allies through fellowship and training programs; and, with the firm belief that we are stronger working together, it forges partnerships with advocates in the U.S. and around the globe to increase our impact and shape the future of our work.

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