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Blair Underwood to Kick off AHF's U.S. HIV Testing Caravan, Monday June 8th, 11:00 AM (PST)

LA to DC: Three Week, 14 City Free HIV Testing Caravan Visits Hard-hit Southern US Cities; Arrives Washington, DC, on Saturday June 27th -- National HIV Testing Day

LOS ANGELES, June 5 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In an effort to boost AIDS awareness and HIV prevention and testing efforts in some of the hardest hit regions of the United States, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the nation's largest non-profit AIDS organization, which currently operates the largest community-based HIV testing program in California, will kick off a three week, fourteen-city cross country HIV testing tour in one of its popular AHF/Magic Johnson Mobile HIV Testing Units. AHF is permanently relocating one of the mobile testing units from Los Angeles to Washington, DC, to provide free, easy-to-access rapid HIV testing in various neighborhoods throughout the nation's capital, where it was recently reported that the HIV prevalence rate has surged past 3% --- higher than in Lagos, Nigeria.

What: PRESS CONFERENCE, FREE HIV TESTING EVENT & SEND OFF -- AHF/Magic Johnson HIV Testing Van Begins Three Week, 14 City Southern US Testing Caravan

When: MONDAY, June 8th, 11:00 am

Where: AHF's Carl Bean House, 2146 West Adams Blvd., (2 blocks west of Western Avenue), Los Angeles CA 90018

Who: Blair Underwood, Actor/AIDS Advocate and Activist

Michael Weinstein, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) President

Cynthia Davis, Assistant Professor, Medical Science Institute, Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science

Whitney Engeran-Cordova, Director, Public Health Division

Azul Mares-DelGrasso, Field Services Manager, AHF PHD (Spanish language) & HIV testing counselors

B-ROLL: Two of AHF's Mobile HIV Testing Vans will be present for filming & photos:

  • AHF's Magic Johnson Mobile HIV Testing Unit, which is driving to DC
  • AHF's Blair Underwood Mobile HIV Testing Unit, which remains in LA

As AHF staffers and HIV testing counselors drive the van from Los Angeles to Washington through many Southern and Eastern states, AHF's 'whistle stop' testing tour will seek to heighten awareness about HIV testing in local communities along the route. The AHF/Magic Johnson Mobile Testing Unit Cross Country HIV Testing Tour kicks off with a press conference and Indy 500-style flag waving ceremony for the van on Monday June 8th at 11:00am (PST) from AHF's Carl Bean House in the West Adams District of Los Angeles, the site of one of AHF's Magic Johnson Healthcare Centers. The cross country tour will include free HIV testing and press events in each city along the way, with local agencies and local and federal politicians participating. The trip culminates with the mobile unit's arrival in Washington, DC on Saturday, June 27th -- National HIV Testing Day.

"While making initial plans to transport our brand new, state-of-the-art AHF/Magic Johnson Mobile Testing Unit from Los Angeles to Washington, DC, we hit upon the idea that this cross country road trip presented a unique opportunity to raise awareness about HIV testing, prevention and treatment through specific testing events and community outreach in cities and states along the way," said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. "As a result, AHF partnered with respected local AIDS and community groups in Phoenix, Albuquerque, Houston, New Orleans, Jackson, Mississippi; Pensacola, Florida; Montgomery, Alabama; Jacksonville, Atlanta, Columbia, South Carolina; Charlotte, Norfolk and Washington, DC to host free HIV testing and media events in each of these communities. At the end of the tour, the AHF/Magic Johnson Mobile Testing Unit will remain and operate in Washington, where AHF will also open a free AIDS treatment clinic -- our first in that city -- later this summer."

"The beauty of these free mobile HIV testing vans is that AIDS Healthcare Foundation operates them right in the heart of the community -- in parking lots of popular retail stores, nearby hip nightclubs and gathering spots, at church events -- and they provide the testing, counseling and results all in one session, so people get their test results right away on the same day," said Blair Underwood, actor and AIDS activist who is also featured in AHF's popular 'Man Up' HIV testing ad campaign currently running in greater Los Angeles. "It is important that people learn how to avoid becoming infected with HIV; or if they are infected, know their HIV status, and seek medical treatment, if needed. People really need to know their HIV status today. These free HIV testing vans provide that opportunity in a friendly, no-hassle way."

During the testing tour, AIDS Healthcare Foundation will also present $5,000 grants to each of the local partners AHF is collaborating with along the way. And throughout the course of the 4,220 mile, three week cross country HIV testing tour, HIV testing counselors and AHF staffers will also supply a steady stream of updates, videos and images via new media: YouTube, Facebook and Twitter postings from along the route, interviews with local partners, government officials and, when appropriate and available, interviews with people who were tested on the mobile unit. (will be live on Monday, June 8th) (will be live on Monday, June 8th)

A fully-outfitted 34 foot HIV/AIDS mobile medical treatment clinic that is operated by AHF's Positive Healthcare in rural areas of north Florida and in the Panhandle will also join the HIV testing caravan starting in New Orleans. The van, affectionately dubbed, 'Bertha,' will travel on with the AHF/Magic Johnson Testing Unit through the remaining Southern and Eastern states and on to Washington. This mobile clinic will serve as an additional backup HIV testing van along the route. Bertha, however, will return to service as a mobile medical clinic in Florida after the National HIV Testing event in Washington on June 27th.

HIV Statistics in the United States

"Last August, the Centers for Disease Control released new data showing an alarming 40% increase in HIV infections in the US -- 56,000 new cases each year up from a previous estimate of 40,000 new cases annually," said Whitney Engeran-Cordova, Director of AIDS Healthcare Foundation's Public Health Division. "There is no doubt that the South is disproportionately affected by HIV and without adequate resources. On our trip we want to meet our colleagues in these cities, support agencies in providing testing and do what we can to raise awareness about the genuine need for HIV testing and treatment throughout the region. The number of new infections in the US is absolutely unacceptable. We have a responsibility to do what we must to help those with HIV know their status and get linked into care."

According to an HIV/AIDS Policy Fact Sheet produced by the Kaiser Family Foundation ("The HIV/AIDS Epidemic in the United States", updated, February, 2009, with statistics through 2007):

  • Ten states account for 71% of AIDS cases reported since the beginning of the epidemic. Nine of these states also rank in the top 10 for newly reported cases. Three of the states that the AHF/Magic Johnson Mobile Testing HIV testing Unit will visit on its tour -- Texas, Florida, and Georgia -- are among these top ten states; together, they account for 21% of the nation's reported AIDS cases through the end of 2007 -- or 216,199 cumulative AIDS cases.

The Kaiser Fact Sheet also pointed out:

  • (AIDS) case rates per 100,000 provide a different measure of the epidemic's impact, since they reflect the concentration of cases after accounting for differences in population size across states. The District of Columbia has the highest AIDS case rate in the nation. Seven of the top 10 states by AIDS case rate are in the South. The AHF/Magic Johnson Mobile HIV Testing Unit tour will travel to and do HIV testing events in five of these Southern states and areas: Louisiana, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and the District of Columbia.

State-by-State Rundown of Local Partners, HIV Testing Events and Press Conferences

LOS ANGELES, CA -- Monday, June 8th

  • 11:00 am PRESS CONFERENCE (Pacific Standard Time) -- Actor/activist Blair Underwood kicks off the three-week, 14 city AHF/Magic Johnson Mobile HIV Testing Caravan
  • EVENT LOCATION: AHF's Carl Bean House, 2146 West Adams Blvd, Los Angeles CA 90018

Cumulative AIDS Cases in CALIFORNIA 14.4% of US total (148,949 AIDS cases through 2007, per CDC)

PHOENIX, AZ -- Tuesday, June 9th

  • local partner: The Southwest Center for HIV/AIDS
  • (4pm-7pm) TESTING EVENT LOCATION--Off Chute Too, 4115 North 7th Ave., Phoenix AZ (next to Community Church of Hope)

Local participants:

  • Hon. Tom Simplot, Vice Mayor, Phoenix
  • Carol A. Poore, President & CEO, Southwest Center for HIV/AIDS
  • Scott Haverstock, MSW, Director, Prevention, Education & Outreach, Southwest Center for HIV/AIDS

Cumulative AIDS Cases in ARIZONA 1.1% of US total (10,975 AIDS cases through 2007, per CDC)

ALBUQUERQUE, NM -- Wednesday, June 10th

  • local partner: New Mexico AIDS Services
  • (4pm-7pm) TESTING EVENT LOCATION -- Fourth Street Antique Mall (4th and Central), Albuquerque, NM

Local participants:

  • Martin J. Chavez, Mayor of Albuquerque

Cumulative AIDS Case in NEW MEXICO 0.3% of US total (2,721 AIDS cases through 2007, per CDC)

NOTE: According to NMAS, while the prevalence rate in New Mexico is officially 0.3%, the prevalence rate of those who get tested at New Mexico AIDS Services is 1.09%

HOUSTON TX -- Saturday, June 13th

  • (all day 'Juneteenth' event) local partner: Legacy Community Health Services (LCHS)
  • TESTING EVENT LOCATION -- At the Houston Juneteenth Multicultural Health Festival Celebration George Brown Convention Center, 1001 Avenida De Las Americas, Houston, TX 77010

Local participants:

  • Katy Kidwell, CEO, Legacy

Cumulative AIDS Cases in TEXAS 7.1% of US total (72,828 AIDS cases through 2007, per CDC)

NEW ORLEANS, LA -- Monday, June 15th


  • local partner(s): NO/AIDS Task Force & FACES and Family Health Center
  • AM (8:30am-2:00pm) TESTING EVENT LOCATION - AM Event @ Cafe du Monde, 1039 Decatur Street New Orleans, LA 70116
  • PM (4:00pm-7:00pm) TESTING EVENT LOCATION - PM Event in Algiers, EXACT LOCATION TBD

Local participants:

  • Jaime Segura, FACES
  • Antonia Imudia, Family Health Center
  • Joshua Fegley, MSW, Project Coordinator, NO/AIDS Task Force

Cumulative AIDS Cases in LOUISIANA 1.8% of US total (18,612 AIDS cases through 2007, per CDC)

JACKSON, MS -- Tuesday, June 16th

  • local partner: Building Bridges, Inc.
  • (2pm-6pm) TESTING EVENT LOCATION -Event location TBA

Local participants:

  • Marilyn Moering, Executive Director, Building Bridges, Inc.

Cumulative AIDS Cases in MISSISSIPPI 0.7% of US total (7,032 AIDS cases through 2007, per CDC)

PENSACOLA, FL -- Wednesday, June 17th

  • AHF Positive Healthcare
  • (2pm-6pm) TESTING EVENT LOCATION--University of West Florida, Nine Mile Road and University Parkway, Pensacola FL

Local participants:

  • Dawn Beebe Averill, RN, BS, Regional Manager, AHF Positive Healthcare

Cumulative AIDS Cases in FLORIDA 10.6% of US total (109,524 AIDS cases through 2007, per CDC)

MONTGOMERY, AL -- Thursday, June 18th

  • local partner: Montgomery AIDS Outreach, Inc.
  • (2pm-6pm) TESTING EVENT LOCATION -Event location TBA

Local participants:

  • Mike Murphree, Executive Director, MAOI
  • Tommy Chavis, Lead Educator, MAOI

Cumulative AIDS Cases in ALABAMA 0.9% of US total (9,091 AIDS cases through 2007, per CDC)

JACKSONVILLE, FL -- Saturday, June 20th

  • local partner: JASMYN (Jacksonville Area Sexual Minority Youth Network)
  • (time: TBD) TESTING EVENT LOCATION -JASMYN Physical address: 923 Peninsular Place, Jacksonville, FL. 32204

Local participants:

  • Cindy Wilson, Executive Director, JASMYN

Cumulative AIDS Cases in FLORIDA 10.6% of US total ( 109,524 AIDS cases through 2007, per CDC)

ATLANTA, GA -- Monday, June 22

  • local partner: AID Atlanta, Inc.
  • (time: TBD) TESTING EVENT LOCATION -Event location TBA

Local participants:

  • Craig Washington, Prevention Program Manager, AID Atlanta, Inc.
  • Tommy Chavis, Lead Educator, MAOI

Cumulative AIDS Cases in GEORGIA 3.3% of US total (33,847 AIDS cases through 2007, per CDC)

COLUMBIA, SC -- Tuesday, June 23rd

  • local partner: South Carolina HIV/AIDS Council (SCHAC)
  • (2pm-6pm) TESTING EVENT LOCATION -Allen University, Allen University Mall, 2300 Taylor Street, Columbia, SC 29204

Local participants:

  • Dr. Bambi Gaddist, Executive Director, SCHAC
  • Vivian Clark-Armstead, Testing & Prevention Coordinator, SCHAC

Cumulative AIDS Cases in SOUTH CAROLINA 1.4% of US total (14,163 AIDS cases through 2007, per CDC)

CHARLOTTE, NC -- Wednesday, June 24th

  • local partner: Metrolina AIDS Project (Metro-LYna)
  • (2pm-6-pm) TESTING EVENT LOCATION -Event location TBA (new Metrolina clinic site)

Local participants:

  • Andre Anderson, Director of Education, Metrolina

Cumulative AIDS Cases in NORTH CAROLINA 1.7% of US total (17,127 AIDS cases through 2007, per CDC)

NORFOLK, VA -- Friday, June 26th

  • local partner: Access AIDS Care
  • (time: TBD) TESTING EVENT LOCATION - Event location TBA (McDonald's near mall entrance)

Local participants:

  • Irma Hinkle, MSW, Programs Director, Access AIDS Care

Cumulative AIDS Cases in VIRGINIA 1.7% of US total (17,608 AIDS cases through 2007, per CDC)

WASHINGTON, DC -- Saturday June 27th - National HIV Testing Day

  • local partner: TBD
  • (time: TBD) TESTING EVENT LOCATION - Event location TBA

Local participants:

  • TBD

Cumulative AIDS Cases in the DISTRICT of COLUMBIA 1.8% of US total (18,196 AIDS cases through 2007, per CDC)

About AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF)

AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) is the nation's largest non-profit HIV/AIDS healthcare provider. AHF currently provides medical care and/or services to more than 100,000 individuals in 21 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean and Asia. Additional information is available at

SOURCE AIDS Healthcare Foundation
Copyright©2009 PR Newswire.
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