New Testing Center in the Neighborhood for National HIV Testing Day

TODAY is National HIV testing awareness day! 
Did you know that as many as 20% of people with HIV have no idea that they are infected and are therefore not getting treated?
GET TESTED. Confidential testing has never been easier or more discreet than ticked safely inside Philadelphia’s biggest and best thrift store- right around the corner from Sexploratorium!
We are proud to help  spread the word of  the official grand opening our  of a new HIV testing center in the neighborhood right inside the walls of our former neighbors, Philly AIDS Thrift!
This testing site was built with money raised at last year’s Diabolique Ball. We will be celebrating at this summer’s Libertine Ball  where nominations for this year’s charity recipients will be accepted.
 We interviewed the woman behind the project, Kristina Kallas for the inside scoop on how today’s newly unveiled project came about… 

christina

How did the Philly AIDS Thrift Testing center idea come about?
We started the organization just about 10 years ago and originally located around the corner on Bainbridge Street in a space that was a LOT smaller! Four years ago we moved into our current location and we were amazed by the amount of space. We had hoped we could use it to do even more to impact the community and the thought of doing testing inside was something we had thought about early on. But very quickly the space was filled with donations! Over the last couple of years we’ve expanded within the building, taking on more space and finally the time was right. We picked a spot that was underutilized on our second floor.
How long did it take to plan for the center?
It was nearly a year ago that we made the final decision on the space. Shortly after that our funding to create the site was secured through the awesome support of the Diabolique Foundation in November. In January 2015 we started meeting with the partner organizations to develop a plan on how to make this thing work and here we are 5 months later ready to roll! The actual building of the site was created by our awesome PT staffer Tom Phoenix, and it took him less than a month to create and build the 300 square foot waiting room and testing room.
What about the site makes you most excited?
The hope in putting an HIV testing site, smack dab in the middle of a retail space, is that we can help normalize HIV Testing. Let’s break the stigmas about getting tested…make it natural, comfortable. Some folks have fears of going somewhere that has a clinical environment, some folks…getting tested isn’t even on their radar. We want to put it on their radar, we want to give them another option, we want them to think about their health and we want them to feel safe while doing it. If someone tests positive, we want to be able to provide them with linkages to care immediately so they can live a healthy life!
How does one get tested at the store:
Right now testing happens on weekends: the 1st and 3rd Saturdays & Sundays and the 2nd and 4th Fridays and Saturdays. All between the hours of 12-4pm. You don’t need an appointment, simply walk in. The site is located on our second floor on the furniture side. The test is FREE and it takes less than 15 minutes for your results, in some cases just a few minutes. The waiting room reflects the thrift store, decorated with cool finds within our shop, it puts you at ease.
Who is doing the testing?
We are currently partnering with 5 wonderful organizations: GALAEI, BEBASHI, Action AIDS, Mazzoni Center and Philadelphia FIGHT. The councilors who provide the testing are trained professionals and they’re also warm and friendly!
Anything else you’d like to mention?
Yes, we are creating a team of outreach volunteers to roam the streets on the weekends and spread the word about the site and HIV Testing! You can also help us by spreading the news to everyone you know. Information is Power!
 You can always check our website for more info or updates: PhillyAIDSthrift.com 
Just a reminder (because we are so proud of having helped make this project happen): This testing site was built with money raised at last year’s Diabolique Ball. We will be celebrating at this summer’s Libertine Ball  where nominations for this year’s charity recipients will be accepted.

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