With new grants from the state and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, Parkland hospital is targeting those at highest risk for contracting HIV — transgender people along with gay and bisexual men — for testing.
Darrel Bell, Parkland’s program manager for HIV prevention, said it may seem like an unusual role for a hospital but fits with the system’s community primary care facilities throughout the county. Several maintain specialties in HIV care.
“We’ve gotten into the prevention arena through our positives,” Bell said.
Using social networking, Bell is bringing people in for testing. He said the program is beginning with low-hanging fruit. Using incentives, he’s encouraging the partners and close friends of existing patients to be tested.
He said Parkland already serves about 4,000 people with HIV. At least half are in the target groups of gay and bi men and transgender people.
Bell said he hears a number of objections to getting tested.
“’I thought I’d wait until I got sick,’” he said is the most common, adding that this isn’t a good idea. “Don’t wait until you burn your bridges.”