Bronx Community Solutions Empowers Clients to ACT AWARE

The theme of this year’s World AIDS Day was “ACT AWARE.” We at Bronx Community Solutions empower our clients to act aware every day by providing HIV/AIDS education through our social service classes, on-site testing at our Better Health Decisions class and Spanish Speaking Orientation class, and through referrals for testing and treatment for HIV. These services would not be possible without the cooperation of two local community based organizations, VIP Services  and Care for the Homeless who provide educational classes and free on-site testing.  Over the last five years, hundreds of our clients have been tested do to the hard work and dedication of these organizations.

As one of the facilitators of an HIV/AIDS prevention class, I am always pleased when clients state "I thought this would be a waste of time, but I am glad I came" or "I am going to make sure I get tested" and my favorite  "Can I have my girlfriend/boyfriend/wife/family member come listen to this information?"

New York City has one of the highest HIV rates in the United States, and the Bronx has been hit especially hard. The Bronx accounts for 16% of the City’s 8.5 million residents, yet the Borough represents 25% of the City’s new HIV cases. The Borough’s death rate from AIDS is nearly 10 times the national average, with 25% of residents only learning they are infected with HIV after they have progressed to full-blown AIDS. In 2007, the Bronx lost more residents to AIDS than any other Borough. The unique characteristics of the HIV epidemic in the Bronx have been attributed to Bronx residents being poorer, less educated, and having less access to medical services. 
To address HIV in the community The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene launched a Borough wide initiative called “Bronx Knows” in 2007. Bronx Knows is a large-scale public health initiative to increase voluntary HIV testing so that every Bronx resident learns his or her HIV status and has access to quality care and prevention.
Through this initiative, the Bronx has been very successful in increasing HIV testing rates with 40% of residents tested last year, compared to 28% of Manhattan residents, 24% of Queens residents, 29% of Brooklyn residents, and 17% of Staten Island residents. In order to reach the goal of every Bronx resident being tested, 500,000 more Bronx residents, or 500 people a day for the next three years, still need to be tested.

We at Bronx Community Solutions are proud to be part of the education, testing and referral initiative in the Bronx and will continue to empower our clients to “ACT AWARE”