A new addition to the Austin HIV toolkit, the Mobile Testing Van from AIDS Services of Austin (ASA) will be hitting the streets soon. Equipped with two confidential counseling and testing areas, the van will allow ASA’s testing team to reach communities across Austin who may not be able to travel to access testing services.

For the past few years, the testing team has relied on an inconspicuous agency vehicle to perform HIV tests in the street, but the new van will increase both visibility for the testing program and privacy for clients. By increasing access to testing for those who are the most vulnerable, the van will help identify people who may not know they have HIV and then link them to appropriate medical care with the goal of improving their quality of life.

Sandra and Britt sit comfortably in one of two confidential testing areas.

Sandra and Britt sit comfortably in one of two confidential testing areas.

While the van is currently white, ASA is working with local marketing firm Sanders-Wingo to create an attractive wrap. By incorporating relevant and culturally-appropriate health promotion messages into the design of the van, ASA staff members hope to make it a friendly, non-stigmatizing way to get tested.

“We want images on the van that represent the diversity of the communities we serve,” Joe McAdams, Prevention Programs Manager, explains.

The biggest benefit of the van will be greater ease of access and comfort in testing. Poverty and transportation issues can often stop someone from seeking testing at local organizations such as ASA. The mobile space will also allow ASA to serve the community in their own neighborhoods in a way that provides confidentiality.

“We hope that when people see the van on the streets, they’ll recognize it,” McAdams said. “It’s really a system of support for Austin’s communities, bringing testing services to their area. For us, this new tool really demonstrates our commitment to the folks we serve.”

Be sure to catch the new Mobile Testing Van at the Austin PRIDE Parade on Saturday, September 20.