HIV testing at the Washington DC DMV

The Fenty Administration announced Washington, DC is partnering with a non-profit to offer free HIV testing at the DMV in Penn Branch – with participants receiving up to $15 to help defray DMV costs.

The year-long project would be another way to reach residents in a city where a 2008 epidemiology update concluded 3 percent of the population had tested positive for HIV/AIDS. That is well above the 1 percent considered to be a general epidemic, advocates for prevention and city officials said.

But the program takes two other unusual steps: It offers up to $15 to help offset the costs of DMV services and provides immediate counseling as well as medical attention. Based on traffic at the Penn Branch DMV and human behavior in other free testing programs, organizers expect to test about 3,000 people annually, roughly 15 percent of the customers at the DMV location. Rapid oral test results at the DMV office will be available in 20 minutes.

The program will reach residents who do not visit doctors regularly and are apprehensive about going to clinics and testing sites.  Those who test positive will get counseling at the DMV and more extensive, one-on-one services.

The city Health Department is supplying HIV testing kits and educational materials, and the DMV is contributing office space. Family and Medical received $250,000 in funding from Gilead Sciences, a Foster City, Calif.-based biopharmaceutical company, to help cover staff and the $15 money orders made out to the D.C. treasury for license renewals, changes in address and other services.

The program isn’t Family and Medical’s first attempt at incentive-based testing. In June, the group teamed up with IHOP in Southeast for National HIV Testing Day. The first 100 people tested received $10 coupons toward their meals at the restaurant.

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