In the United States (U.S.), there are more than 160,000 people living with undiagnosed Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). On Monday, September 21, 2020, the City of Nashua Division of Public Health and Community Services (DPHCS) began partnering with the NH Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and the Community Health Institute (CHI) to expand support for HIV testing by piloting an in-home testing program.
The only way to know for sure if you or someone else has HIV is to get tested. If you are sexually active, or planning to be, getting tested is one of the most important steps you can take to protect the health of you and your partner. HIV self-testing allows for people to take an HIV test and find out their result in the comfort of their own home or other private location. Everyone with HIV benefits from getting early diagnosis and treatment because it allows them to live long, healthy lives and have no risk of sexually transmitting HIV to others.
Access to HIV testing has been directly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic as many clinics and traditional testing settings have been closed to abide by Safer at Home orders and social distancing guidelines. The Nashua DPHCS, along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), continue to encourage people at risk for HIV infection to continue to get tested during this time.
The goal of this program is to prevent, treat, and/or control the spread of HIV to protect the health of the Greater Nashua community. Accessing an in-home HIV test kit is simple and free of cost. Individuals interested in an in-home HIV test kit can call Nashua DPHCS Public Health Nurse, Sascha Potzka, at 603-682-2885. After a brief intake via phone call, an in-home HIV test kit will be mailed to eligible individuals in confidential and discreet packaging. The initial test result is available within 20 minutes of taking the test. If the test result is positive, the individual is encouraged to call the Nashua DPHCS back for confirmatory testing and follow up.
“We are excited to partner with the NH DHHS and CHI to offer an alternative to in-person testing; especially during this pandemic. Our goal for this program is to empower individuals to know their status by increasing accessibility to HIV testing. Clients have the ability to test in the privacy of their own home but also have a nurse liaison to provide support, education, and resources throughout the process.” shared Kim Bernard, Nashua DPHCS Chief Public Health Nurse.
For more information on this program, please visit the Nashua DPHCS STD/HIV/HCV Program website at nashuanh.gov/1270/STDHIVHCV-Program or call 603-589-4500.