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SOURCE (Student Outreach Resource Center)

HIV Testing and Counseling Program

LSteinhardt

Laura Steinhardt, HIV Counselor

When I came to Hopkins as a Doctoral Student, I was interested in getting involved int he community at an organization that offers HIV Testing and Counseling. Baltimore has one of the highest rates of HIV incidence in the United States, and knowing one's HIV status is an important first step in reducing HIV transmission.  HIV testing along with counseling about risk reduction strategies is an effective way to encourage healthier behaviors, prevent the spread of HIV in this city, and ensure that HIV-positive individuals have access to treatment. I was very excited when SOURCE announced its HIV Testing and Counseling program in the Fall of 2007 for students interested in volunteering at several community-based organizations and local health care providers.

After a thorough training on both counseling and the technical details of rapid HIV testing, I was placed as a Testing and Counseling volunteer at Chase Brexton Health Services in Mt. Vernon. I volunteer every other week at Chase Brexton to provide free anonymous or confidential HIV testing and counseling services to interested clients. In addition to helping provide a public health service to Baltimore residents, I really value the time I get to spend one-on-one with clients who come in for testing. As a non-clinician, PhD student, studying access to primary health care internationally, this is a unique opportunity for me to move from working at the pouplation level to the individual level right here in Baltimore. I feel very lucky to work directly with Baltimore residents providing a public health service that is aimed at empowering individuals - and ultimately the city's populatiion - with the knowledge to keep themselves and others healthier and disease-free.