Driving licence, road tax, HIV test
Published 22/11/2011 | 10:21
A Department of Motor Vehicles office in Washington is offering US motorists a free HIV test alongside its regular services such as driving licences and temporary road-tax stickers.
In a city with one of the highest percentages of residents living with HIV or Aids, health officials have now test-driven the in-DMV testing, and are finding that it works. So far, more than 5,000 people have been screened and received results while they wait.
Officials are now expanding the programme, offering testing at an office where Washington residents register for food stamps and other government assistance. On Monday, the first day of the programme, 60 people got tested, officials said. As an incentive they are being offered a gift card to a local grocery store.
"You have to meet people where they are," said Sheila Brockington, who oversees HIV testing at the DMV office in south-east Washington. "You're waiting anyway. You might as well."
The testing project, which began last October, is run by a non-profit group, Family and Medical Counselling Service. Government statistics in June show about 1.1 million Americans were living with the Aids virus in 2008.
"We don't do blood. We do swabs," tester Karen Johnson tells customers, explaining that the test of their saliva takes 20 minutes and that participants will not lose their place in the DMV queue.