Struggling with one of the highest rates of HIV infection in North America, Washington, D.C., city officials have come up with a unique way to expand access to HIV testing and services: free tests at the DMV.
Beginning next week, D.C. residents taking the dreaded drivers license exam or renewing their car registrations can opt for a rapid HIV test. Participants receive up to $15 to help offset their DMV fees.
City officials fully admit that the DMV's reputation for long lines and long wait times factored into their decision to bring HIV screening to the much-maligned office:
"We wanted to have a broad audience and a captive audience. You're captive at the DMV," said Angela Fulwood Wood, chief operations officer of the Family and Medical Counseling Service, a Southeastern nonprofit group that already tests about 5,000 District residents a year.
The rapid tests take about 20 minutes to produce results. DMV patrons can also receive immediate on-site medical counseling and services. D.C. officials expect to test about 3,000 people during the program's first year.