Free Hepatitis C and HIV Screening Available

Posted By cincyexchange on Jan 30, 2017


Because so much of our work is hands-on, we are in a position to do a great deal of good in our communities. While our main focus remains providing sterile syringes to people, we are also able to help those who need health care, housing, drug and alcohol treatment, and other services.

The organizations Caracole, Inc. and Equitas Health work alongside us to provide confidential healthcare screening and prevention services to our mutual clients who are at risk for contracting bloodborne diseases. Over 60% of our clients report that prior to coming to us, they did not have consistent access to new syringes. Lack of sterile syringes greatly increases the risk of spreading HIV, hepatitis, and other diseases.

Numerous studies and research indicate that syringe exchange programs like ours reduce HIV and hepatitis transmission rates. Nearly 75% of our clients report they are positive for hepatitis C, and 2% say they’ve contracted the HIV virus.

Every one of the 15,000 needles we exchange each month is a step toward reducing the rate of new infections.

Because symptoms may be subtle, many people don’t realize they’ve contracted the HIV or hepatitis viruses. Testing for bloodborne diseases is a critical part of the harm reduction strategy. Caracole and Equitas Health personnel join us onsite to offer the following services:

  • Free, rapid anonymous HIV testing (results in 20 minutes)
  • Free, rapid confidential Hepatitis C testing (results in 20 minutes)
  • Counseling services for those living with or affected by HIV/AIDS

Caracole and Equitas Health park their vans alongside ours for easy access. Their personnel joins us at our sites on a monthly schedule as follows:

  • 1st Thursday of the month, testing by Caracole Inc. at our Walnut Hills location
  • 2nd Monday of the month, testing by Caracole Inc. at our Northside location
  • 2nd Thursday of the month, testing by Equitas Health at our Middletown location
  • 3rd Wednesday of the month, testing by Caracole Inc. at our Mt. Auburn location
  • 3rd Thursday of the month, testing by Equitas Health at our Middletown location
  • 4th Thursday of the month, testing by Caracole Inc. at our Middletown location

Caracole and Equitas Health offer services beyond testing. They help people find the care and assistance they need when faced with medical challenges. The professionals at Caracole and Equitas Health can also:

  • Explain what your test results mean and what kind of treatment is available
  • Help you access benefits and medication
  • If you qualify, Caracole can provide a safe place for you to live or financial help

Like us, Caracole and Equitas Health find themselves in a position to fill many other needs in the community. In their efforts to care about people as a whole, they provide complimentary services such as:

  • Addressing medical needs other than HIV/AIDS
  • Substance abuse and/or mental health recovery support
  • Help accessing financial assistance or legal services
  • Access to food pantries, housing, and transportation

The people at Caracole and Equitas Health are valuable teammates, working alongside us to bring hope and health to our brothers and sisters suffering the devastating tolls of addiction. We are extremely grateful for their services, and we know many of our clients are, too.

Who is Caracole?

Caracole was founded in 1987 during the height of the AIDS epidemic to provide a home for people living with the HIV virus. Caracole started with one house in 1988 where “people with HIV/AIDS could live the last months of their lives with dignity.” Today, Caracole has grown to meet the needs of over 1,500 people living with HIV/AIDS through an array of housing and supportive services.

Caracole’s mission is “to reduce the impact of HIV/AIDS through housing, care and prevention.” For more information, please view this video about Caracole’s services.

You can also call Caracole at (513) 761-1480 to schedule an appointment with them. Walk-in appointments are available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Wednesdays from 9 a.m. until 8 p.m. in Caracole’s Northside office located at 4138 Hamilton Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio 45223.

Who is Equitas Health?

Equitas Health is a non-profit, community-based healthcare system that was founded when communities started reeling from the impact of the AIDS epidemic in 1984. It was formerly known as AIDS Resource Center Ohio.

Equitas’ mission is to provide a gateway to good health for those at risk of or affected by HIV/AIDS, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) community, and those seeking a welcoming healthcare home. They work to stem healthcare disparities experienced by the LGBTQ community, ranging from disrespectful treatment, providers’ lack of awareness of LBGT health needs, outright denial of care, shaming, and blaming sexual orientation or gender identity as the cause of an illness.

Last year, nearly 1,400 HIV-positive patients received treatment from Equitas Health. Another 4,310 clients were linked to medical care, housing assistance, emergency financial assistance, and health navigation services. Equitas’ prevention services reached 43,700 people through HIV testing, education and outreach.

Equitas also offers HIV/STI screening services in Dayton, Toledo, and Columbus. Check the Equitas Events page for dates, times and locations for testing as well as other services they offer.

Thanks to federal, state and city grants and donations from generous people, foundations and corporations, services from Caracole and Equitas Health remain FREE to our clients. We are happy to work side-by-side with these organizations to help make a difference in the lives of our mutual clients.

photo credit: .v1ctor Casale. HIV and Hepatits Test via photopin (license)