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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: At D.C. DMV: Driver's License, Tag Renewal, HIV Test
Jessica Gresko
November 23, 2011
Associated Press (11.22.11) - Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A program that offers District residents free HIV testing while they wait at one Department of Motor Vehicles branch has won an award to expand the service to an office where people register for food stamps, Medicaid, and other assistance. At the new location Monday, 60 residents took the test and received a $5 gift card to a local grocery store.

"You have to meet people where they are," said Sheila Brockington, who oversees testing at the DMV office. "You're waiting anyway. You might as well." To ensure confidentiality, the DMV outreach has its own separate office. So far, more than 5,000 people have been screened there. Run by the nonprofit Family and Medical Counseling Services (FMCS) Inc., the project won a $250,000 grant to do the testing and secured the support of the DMV and the city Health Department. A second, similar grant is funding the expansion.

At the DMV office, pitching the test comes easy for staff members: The oral fluid-based HIV test is free; $7 will be taken off the DMV bill; it will not hurt; and testers will not lose their place in line. "We don't do blood. We do swabs," tester Karen Johnson tells patrons, explaining that it takes just 20 minutes for results.

FMCS head Angela Wood came up with the idea for DMV-based testing after sitting in a DMV office herself. While officials initially doubted many would agree to test at the DMV, 25 to 35 people do so daily. Less than 1 percent have tested positive so far. For those who do test positive, FMCS provides a free ride to a nearby office where they can arrange for counseling and a doctor's appointment.