Post submitted by Cornelius Mabin, AR PrEP Taskforce Co-Chair and Arkansas HIV Planning Group Chair
The Arkansas PreP Task Force joined forces with an array of local partners including the Arkansas Department of Health and national partners Walgreens and Greater Than AIDS to participate in National HIV Testing Day activities on June 27 and 28. The two-day testing event was the second major action of the Arkansas PrEP Task Force, which is co-chaired by HRC Arkansas State Director, Kendra R. Johnson and Cornelius Mabin, Arkansas HIV Planning Group Chair and the Executive Director of Arkansas RAPPS.
In planning the event, task force members decided to use this specific awareness day as a platform to both share information about PrEP and to further support the PrEP 2 Live campaign, which highlights the use of PrEP as an option in their efforts to address treatment as prevention and high impact prevention activities in all of the state’s five health regions. PrEP stands for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis and is a once-daily pill regimen that can help people stay HIV-negative.
Prior to the official date and in support of the event, HRC Arkansas facilitated a Facebook Live featuring area healthcare advocates outlining challenges and barriers of living with HIV before and post the Affordable Healthcare Act in Arkansas.
Participating partners were stationed at eight selected Walgreens locations across the state and were staffed with Certified State Testers. Each site used the 20-minute Orasure HIV testing kit and offered pre-counseling to participants while using branded materials as complimentary incentives for participation.
This year’s event was the largest mobilization for Arkansas and resulted in 150 completed tests, plus 1,000 condoms and over 100 pieces of printed bilingual HIV and PrEP materials being distributed during both days.
The Arkansas Prep Task Force values building local collaborations and corporate relationships with community partners such as Walgreens, which received a perfect score on HRC’s Corporate Equality Index (CEI). It is our vision to continue to partner with community based organizations, increase cultural competency and educating about PrEP to impact health outcomes in the state.