March 12, 2014 at 1:23 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Us Helping Us debuts new HIV testing van
Us Helping Us, testing van, gay news, Washington Blade

(Photo courtesy of Us Helping Us)

An eye-catching new mobile health screening van launched on February 28 is carrying out its mission of encouraging black gay and bisexual men throughout the city to get tested for HIV, according to Ron Simmons, president and CEO of Us Helping Us, the HIV advocacy group that’s operating the van.

Simmons said the mobile health unit van is part of a national HIV testing and prevention program directed toward black gay and bisexual men through a grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which developed the program. The CDC says the program is aimed at lowering the HIV infection rate of black men who have sex with men, which is the highest of all the population groups deemed to be affected by the AIDS epidemic in the U.S.

Simmons is a nationally recognized expert on HIV-related services for people of color. He served as a member of a working group that advised the CDC in the development and implementation of the program, which is called “Testing Makes Us Stronger.”

That slogan along with a large drawing of a bare chested young man flexing the muscle of his raised arm appears on the side of the new van.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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