Us Helping Us receives grant to provide HIV testing for couples
UHU has received a grant from the District to develop and implement HIV counseling and testing services to couples, including heterosexual and same sex couples. A DC survey of heterosexuals found that in many stable committed relationships, condom usage was low. However, about half of those persons in those relationships did not know their partner‘s HIV status. Within a relationship perceived as “safe” due to its intimacy and commitment level, the combination of not using condoms and not knowing your partner‘s status may lead to HIV infection.
“Couples HIV testing is a relatively new strategy to reduce HIV infection in the District,” says Ron Simmons, Ph.D., the President/CEO of Us Helping Us, “and we are honored to be one of the first agencies to implement such as program.”
Couples HIV counseling and testing is not marriage or relationship counseling: the couple—not the counselor—is ultimately responsible for what happens in the relationship. Research shows that with support, couples do make it through the difficulties and challenges that may arise from being tested for HIV together.
“We are planning a social marketing campaign to go with the couples HIV counseling program,” says Ernest Walker, the Director of Programs. “Couples counseling will be offered to all types of couples: heterosexual, same sex, transgendered, young, mature, married and unmarried.”
Research shows that effective couples HIV testing requires clear, accurate, and culturally sensitive prevention messages tailored to the couple‘s life stage and reasons for seeking HIV testing services; mitigating tension and diffusing blame by focusing on the present and future; and creating an environment that is safe for disclosure of HIV status among partners.
For more information, call Us Helping Us at: 202 446-1100.