Continuing with our Open House, we move on to CDN and take a look at our testing van.
Condom Distribution Network (CDN)
Each month, CDN distributes 3,300 volunteer-assembled safe sex kits to 81 sites in the city. Each kit contains condoms, lubricant packets, a prep chart, and a card with ASA testing sites and hours. CDN also takes a holistic,
community-based approach to prevention by providing personal hygiene kits to Austin’s homeless population (shaving supplies, dental products, soap, hand sanitizer, etc.) and risk reduction kits that reduce the spread of HIV among intravenous drug users.
CDN is always looking for volunteers and is a fantastic space for group volunteering; as Volunteer Manager Megan Satterfield put it, “Come relax, have snacks, make packs!”
Mobile Testing Van
The “mobile office” of ASA, the testing van recently received a paint job make-over from Marcus Sanchez for easy recognition around town. The van, which brings many new clients to ASA, has two testing areas with comfy seats where those wanting to be tested can receive one-on-one attention behind closed doors. Different tests are performed based on initial risk assessment, including syphilis and Hepatitis C tests for high-risk individuals. “The idea is to meet people where they are at,” said Testing Manager Camarion Anderson. “We are taking our services to the community in a sacred space. Whether we are directly affected by this or not, we are all educators. When we open our mouths and say something positive, we affirm that person can continue to thrive.”
The van goes out each week to 4 main sites in the city, including Austin’s popular downtown gay district. For days, times and locations, check the ASA website.
The HIV pandemic is far from over, but ASA is grassroots testament to the power of community and respect to fight the disease and support those in need. “Thirty years ago, all we could really offer HIV positive people was compassion and respite care,” said executive director Paul Scott. “Now, we’ve gone from holding people’s hands at their deathbed to holding them up with our hands, and letting them go to live their lives.”
Our Monthly Open House is open to the public. Register here.