HIV/HCV Care Associate Adrienne Washington talks testing and education
Q: Why is it so difficult to talk about HIV and Hepatitis C (HCV)?
People are ashamed or afraid of judgement. When I ask if clients have ever had any sexually transmitted diseases, they hesitate. I tell them everything is confidential and reassure them that even if the test comes back positive, they’re not alone.
Q: These conversations seem so personal—are people comfortable talking about sex, drug use and infections?
I think people have had questions about these topics for years, and nobody has answered them. The first time I went to House of Ruth, seven women starting asking me questions and got tested. At another site, 15 people came to see me. I try to uplift, empower and let them know that where we are is not all that we are.
Q: How many people have you tested since you started a few months ago?
I’ve tested 122 people. When we do the test, it’s like they’re able to breathe—they feel empowered. Then I’m able to offer ways for them to engage in sex more safely. If they are positive, I help them get treatment.
Q: How can the Health Care for the Homeless community help?
In the U.S., an estimated 2.4 million people live with HCV infection and 1.1 million with HIV infection. All of us are at risk. If you haven’t been tested, ask your provider for the test. Know your status, take control and start getting better!
Find a place to get tested here and help slow the spread of HIV and Hepatitis C.