Getting to Zero

“…and then we will prick your finger with a retractable needle.”

Clad in purple latex gloves, Duachi Her pantomimes the well-practiced steps of a rapid response HIV test. An API Health Educator with Neighborhood House’s Community Health program, she’s performed this procedure many times before – 32 screenings in October alone.

“From here on, we’ll just wait 15 minutes, and within that time you will get your results. As you can see, it’s just that easy!”

During the past decade, education, screening, and increased use of retroviral therapy has continued to reduce the global reach of HIV/AIDS. But in Minnesota, there is a still a great deal of work to be done. Designed to meet the needs of St. Paul’s Latino and API (Asian Pacific Islander) communities, Neighborhood House’s Community Health program provides support and screening to chronically underserved communities at high-risk of infection.

In addition to providing free, anonymous rapid-response HIV screening, Duachi and other members of the team lead workshops, manage a popular Facebook Page focused on sexual health, and have a strong following at many community events where they hand out safer sex kits and information about healthy sexual behaviors.

“These conversations open doors.” says Duachi, “In Hmong, many people never learn the words we associate with sexuality, because it is so taboo.”

Neighborhood House’s API/Latino health outreach staff offer support in English, Spanish, and Hmong; with free, anonymous screening available from 1-3pm on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays; and from 5-7pm on Tuesdays. If you would like to learn more, please email Duachi Her.

Anders R-M     By Anders Ringdahl Mayland