Bret Camp is associate executive director for the Resource Center of Dallas. Last Wednesday, June 27, the Resource Center offered free HIV testing as part of National HIV Testing Day. Eight percent of tests on that day came back positive for the Dallas area. If you didn’t make last Wednesday, the center offers HIV testing Monday through Thursday by appointment. For more information, call 214-528-2336.
What does an 8 percent positive rate mean for the Dallas community?
Our positive rate for National HIV testing day shows that we are reaching a high-risk population. It is important for people who are at high risk to have an environment that they can access HIV testing where they feel comfortable and confident seeking services.
How does it compare to other times of the year and other locations?
For the last 10 years or so, we have had consistently run about a 6 percent positive rate for our HIV testing program at Nelson-Tebedo. Probably one of our busiest months is in January because many people will make a New Year’s resolution that includes HIV testing or some behavior modification. The positive rate of other locations is most often much lower, sometimes below 1 percent.
Did good news also come out of last Wednesday? If so, what was it?
The fact that we were able to diagnose people with HIV and empower them to take control of their health was good news. When people enter health care before there is significant immune damage, they will maintain their health longer. Another benefit was we were able to provide risk reduction education for everyone that we saw that day.
How did you get interested in HIV health care?
I went into health care early in the beginning of the HIV epidemic. There was so much fear and ignorance surrounding the care of people with HIV, I felt I could make a difference in the care my friends and community receive. I have no regrets.
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing our community in regards to HIV?
Because our community is so diverse, there are going to be different challenges. What applies to one person may not for the next. Some of the biggest challenges will be in educating people to make healthy choices. This is especially true of people who see themselves as low risk.
Soundout is a weekly column featuring people whose jobs and interests have an impact on the daily lives of members of the LGBT community. It features those who often go unnoticed by the press and community. If you’d like to recommend someone to cover in this column, contact staff writer Ben Briscoe at briscoedallasvoice.com.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, July 6, 2007.
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