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HIV Testing & Linkage to Care

Know Your Status – Get Tested for HIV

Linkage to care

The Importance of HIV Testing

HIV testing represents an initial step in the Journey to Wellness. We understand the fears, stigma, and concerns around even being tested, but believe that regular testing is in everyone’s best interest. Consider the following two reasons:

  • Personal health: HIV is a very treatable disease. Ignoring or hoping it will go away only allows the virus to cause further damage to your body. Your health is important to us. Everyone should be tested.
  • Community health: It is believed that 54% of new sexually transmitted HIV infections are transmitted from those who are unaware of their status. This means that the best way to love your partner, your family, and your neighbors, is to be tested for HIV.

It is recommended that everyone be tested once a year for HIV. For those who have been tested before, we strongly encourage another test if you have participated in the following activities since your last test:

  • Unprotected sex, either, oral, vaginal and anal sex
  • Substance abuse, such as sharing any needles or tools including the water
  • Tattooing
  • Body Piercing
  • Infected pregnant women can pass HIV to their babies during pregnancy or delivery, and through breast feeding. But entering treatment can substantially reduce the risk of spreading HIV to the child
Oral HIV Test

Testing can be done several ways. One way to have the testing done is an oral test. This is similar to running a swab over your gums. The results are ready in twenty minutes. If this test comes back positive a second test is conducted, also known as a western blot test, and blood is drawn for this test to confirm the HIV (positive or negative) diagnosis.

You can also have blood drawn if you prefer to do so in the beginning and clinicians will perform an ELISA test (or Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay test). If this test comes back positive we will follow up with a confirmatory test called a western blot.

Linkage to Care

Linkage and engagement in care are a critical step on the Journey to Wellness. Many people who know they have HIV are not receiving regular care for their disease. There are many reasons for this including fear, stigma and multiple barriers such as substance abuse, lack of housing or other psycho-social challenges that make regular care difficult. The JACQUES Initiative provides a Safe Place to work with a team of caring, dedicated staff who will help walk you through the process of not only getting into HIV care but overcoming the challenges that you face to staying in care.

Connect 2 Care (C2C) Clinic

With the theme of TODAY, any newly diagnosed or “out of care” HIV positive individual can access the JACQUES Initiative Connect 2 Care Clinic by appointment or as a walk in. In the Connect 2 Care clinic, clients are:

  1. scheduled a medical appointment at the location of their choice;
  2. given the opportunity to speak with someone who is living well with HIV; and
  3. if the individual chooses to receive care at the JACQUES Initiative, he/she will have initial lab work drawn and be greeted by his/her medical team.

Let’s TALC

TALC stands for “Testing and Linkage to Care.” At the JACQUES Initiative we want to talk to you and those that are important to you. We want to spread the word that there is a dedicated team of people to work with you regardless of your result and we will work with you to make a plan for the future.

Where else can you be tested or linked to care by the JACQUES Initiative?

Emergency Department Testing Program

Through collaboration with the Baltimore City Health Department and the Infectious Disease and Environmental Health Administration, the JACQUES Initiative does rapid HIV testing 5-6 days per week, 8-12 hours per day at three Hospital Emergency Departments including the University of Maryland Medical Center, Maryland General Hospital and Mercy Medical Center. Approximately 750 citizens are tested each month in these settings.

HIV Testing and Linkage to Care in the Community

Trained staff from the JACQUES Initiative work with participating outreach sites in the community that are known to serve target populations with actual or disproportionate risk for HIV infection to include drug treatment centers, transitional houses and the acute care setting. Since 2005 between 150-200 clients are engaged in primary each year through these outreach efforts.

Through multiple satellite sites in the community, the JACQUES Initiative reaches those in need of HIV care and treatment services. Through referrals and education, satellite sites are able to meet the complex needs of Baltimore residents right in their neighborhoods by identifying new cases of HIV, increasing access to care for those who are newly diagnosed or already know their status and decreasing overall health disparities by meeting clients where they are.

Please visit the “JACQUES Initiative in the Community” page

Contact Us

For more information about HIV Testing and Linkage to Care, please contact the JACQUES Initiative at 410-706-4323.