Background: Men who have sex with men (MSM) account for approximately half of HIV diagnoses among men in Chicago. Expanding STI/HIV testing and Hepatitis vaccination campaigns among high-risk groups can make a significant impact on the health of a community.
Objectives: To provide on-site testing and vaccinations services for MSM during summer events in Chicago. Increase the accessibility of and reduce the stigma of testing services in a safe and affirming atmosphere.
Methods: To increase awareness and to promote routine testing and health-seeking behaviors among MSM, Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) developed “Testing Villages” at several summer events to provide free, on-site HIV tests, syphilis tests, and Hepatitis A/B vaccinations. Large, self-contained areas with tents were erected, health services were integrated, innovative recruitment strategies were utilized and incentives to access these services were offered.
Results: With the development of and ongoing improvements to the “Testing Villages” in Chicago, the volume of tests and vaccinations improved dramatically. In 2009, in total 1,778 persons were tested during the summer events (218 were tested for syphilis, 926 were tested by rapid HIV and 634 were vaccinated). From 2007 to 2009, the number of syphilis tests increased by 150% (87 to 218) while Rapid HIV testing increased by 719% (from 113 to 926). Hepatitis vaccinations increased by 19% (from 532 to 634). In 2009, testing efforts identified 4 new syphilis and 14 new HIV infections.
Conclusions: An integrated testing approach is feasible and was effective in reaching a high-risk population.
Implications for Programs, Policy, and/or Research: Programs can provide large scale, on-site testing and vaccination services at outdoor events to reach traditionally hard-to-access populations.