Hudson Valley Community Services is now offering free HIV test kits that they’ll mail to your home.
“We want to make sure that people get the services that they truly need,” said Naomi Kabalkin, senior program supervisor at the center.
She said they are stepping up to fill a gap in service.
“We also saw a lot of places in the community who are no longer doing open door clinics, no longer doing walk-in testing," she said. "The resources that we used to have we're just not there anymore.”
Director of Education and Prevention, Jennifer Brathwaite, said in a release that this method is appealing to those who were reluctant to get tested for HIV before.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has hindered our ability to conduct HIV testing and this was a useful workaround," she said.
They are targeting those who are considered at high risk of contracting HIV.
“The way that HIV works is it attacks the immune system. It directly goes inside the body and isolates the white blood cells and destroys them,” Kabalkin said.
Which, in turn, weakens your immune system.
“Having a decreased amount of white blood cells in your body, you are more susceptible to other infections. If you have COVID plus a weakened immune system, you can get sicker faster."
Knowing that you are positive for HIV is even more important during this pandemic. In fact, it could save your life.
“We can get them started on medication and we can get them to an undetectable level," she said. "We can make sure that their bodies are prepared for that fight.”
If you are undetectable, the virus is so low in your system that only a specialized blood test can identify it. The team at the HVCS is prepared to walk you through the process on the phone.
"We don't just want to give somebody an HIV test and say, 'have a nice day'. We want to see what's going on for the client. When somebody presents for an HIV test, they're worried, they're nervous," she said.
Kabalkin said the team is committed to also providing comprehensive pre and post-test counseling to ensure you have support right throughout the process.
To receive a home HIV test kit and counseling, text or call (845) 704-7624 or visit here.