Newsroom

Contact Information

For further information about Get Tested Coachella Valley/Hazte la Prueba Valle de Coachella, please contact:

Susan Unger,
Project Director
sunger @gettestedcoachellavalley.org
Cell: 760-250-2801

Campaign Background

Get Tested Coachella Valley is a region-wide public health campaign dedicated to dramatically reducing the spread of HIV and ensuring linkage to care for those who test positive. Sparked by the vision of Desert AIDS Project and under their ongoing leadership, a growing coalition of more than 100 community partners is the driving force behind the campaign.Get Tested Coachella Valley is committed to:

  • Making voluntary HIV testing standard and routine medical practice;
  • Making HIV testing and HIV care available to everyone, including those who don’t see healthcare providers on a regular basis;
  • Educating the entire community on how to protect their health and prevent infection.

An international study, hailed by the journal Science as the “2011 Breakthrough of the Year,” proved that if an individual who is HIV positive takes the right medications, he or she may become up to 96% less likely to pass the virus to others.

Work on the initiative began in the Spring of 2012. The first phase of the project involved research into similar campaigns in major cities around the United States, including New York, Washington DC, Miami, Los Angeles, Oakland, and San Francisco.

Get Tested Coachella Valley represents the first-ever attempt by a local region in the United States to use a community-based approach to bring an end to the HIV epidemic.

During the Summer of 2012, a series of Think Tank sessions was attended by over 200 community leaders who shaped the preliminary design of the campaign.

In the Fall of 2012, three Working Groups of community partners met to strategize and address key challenges, including how to: engage the heath care community and greatly increase the number of HIV test sites in the Coachella Valley; educate and inspire the general public; and ensure linkage to care for all who test positive.

During 2013, the campaign design was translated in to a 3-year Action Plan supported by a $5 million budget.

Key elements of this Action Plan include:

  • Outreach to health care providers across the Coachella Valley through educational training sessions and technical support from Get Tested Coachella Valley Public Health Liaisons;
  • A mobile HIV testing clinic at community venues and events, helping to reach individuals who do not see health care providers on a routine basis;
  • A large-scale education and anti-stigma campaign.

The campaign was launched to the general public in January 2014.

Key milestones to date include:

  • The naming of three Campaign Champions: Carolyn Caldwell, CEO, Desert Regional Medical Center; Rep. Raul Ruiz, MD (CA-36); and Barbara Keller, Board Chair, Desert AIDS Project.
  • The endorsement and active collaboration of the region’s public health system, major hospitals, and medical community leadership, including: Riverside County Department of Public Health, Riverside County Health System, Riverside County Medical Association, Desert Regional Medical Center, Eisenhower Medical Center, and John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital
  • The formation of a growing coalition of more than 100 community partners, including local medical clinics, doctors, and pharmacies; leaders of community- and faith-based organizations, local government, educational institutions, businesses, foundations; and caring individuals.
  • The design of the region’s first-ever linkage to care network – providing all health care providers with convenient access to early intervention services for patients who test positive
  • A specially designed mobile HIV testing clinic with two testing areas
  • The launch of campaign websites and social media sites in English and Spanish

FAQs

How does the rate of HIV in the Coachella Valley compare to the national average? 

The HIV/AIDS prevalence rate in the Coachella Valley is over two times higher than the national rate — putting everyone at greater risk.

What percentage of people in the U.S. who have HIV are unaware that the have it?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that approximately one in eight people with HIV does not know they are infected.

What percentage of Coachella Valley residents have never been tested for HIV?

A study conducted by HARC just prior to the launch of our campaign determined that over half of Coachella Valley residents have never been tested for HIV.

What leading experts endorse routine HIV testing for all American adults and adolescents? 

Among others, routine HIV testing for all American adults and adolescents is recommended by:

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  • U.S. Preventive Services Task Force
  • amFAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research

How does HIV testing help to decrease the rate of HIV?

Behavioral studies have shown that those who do not know that they are HIV-positive are more likely to engage in risk behaviors associated with HIV transmission, whereas people who test HIV-positive take steps to keep others from being exposed to the virus.

How does linkage to care help to decrease the rate of HIV? 

It has been scientifically proven that if an individual who is HIV positive takes the right medications, he or she may become up to 96% less likely to pass the virus to others.

Is the Get Tested Coachella Valley community partnership strategy consistent with the National HIV/AIDS Strategy issued by President Obama in 2010?

Yes. As stated in the National HIV/AIDS strategy: “The job of implementing the National HIV/AIDS Strategy…does not fall to the Federal Government alone, nor should it. Success will require the commitment of all parts of society, including State, tribal and local governments, businesses, faith communities, philanthropy, the scientific and medical communities, educational institutions, people living with HIV, and others.”