Columbia CARES

These funds will support the Columbia CARES Rapid HIV testing program. This program promotes responsible decision-making skills by offering HIV testing in communities where people who are high-risk of infection may access services in a safe environment. Columbia CARES focuses testing efforts for men and women in treatment for alcohol & drug abuse, survivors of domestic violence, and spouses/significant others of people with an HIV disease diagnosis. The project offers free testing with accurate results available in 20 minutes. The testing process also includes pre and post test counseling services. The Columbia CARES testing program is systemic from our core services of prevention and care. Individuals who participate in an HIV prevention program also learn about Hepatitis C (HCV) and learn of behaviors which increase HCV transmission risks as well. With the national and state rates of HCV infection increasing and risk of co-infection, HCV and HIV, Columbia CARES has responded to our community need and requested training in the next few months to conduct rapid HCV testing which will be offered to high-risk individuals, specifically persons who identify sharing drug use needles as their risk factor. The same person who benefits from prevention services will receive risk reduction counseling if their test is negative or receive immediate linkage to medical services if their test is positive. HIV testing services are offered onsite at the CARES facility as well as offsite in alcohol & drug treatment centers, particularly in rural communities.