Every Friday between 5 and 8 PM, a large coach bus sits at the corner of Third Avenue and 126th Street with the words “Your Health Matters” plastered across the front. That’s the new mobile care unit, a project of Harlem United, offering medical and dental care on wheels. And just in time for National HIV/AIDS testing day on June 27, the team provides free HIV tests.
David Lopez, Harlem United’s managing director of testing services, calls the mobile unit “an extension of our prevention testing programs.” A non profit organization, located at Lenox Avenue and 126th Street, Harlem United offers HIV prevention, education, housing and support services.
Though the HIV/AIDS death rate has plummeted in Harlem—and all over the country—the disease remains significant in communities of color. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the rate of HIV diagnosis and the number of people living with HIV/AIDS in the Harlem community remain more than twice the rates in New York City overall. It’s worse in two distinct communities: young men who have sex with men and transgender women.
The Harlem United Mobile Health Team chose its site with these facts in mind. The team hopes to reach clients in the area, known as an LGBT “stroll,” allowing those who normally hesitate to attend the fixed clinic site to receive individualized care through the mobile unit.
“Many people have anxiety issues when it comes to going to a clinic,” says Mouye Diop, the patient navigator for the mobile care unit. “This is a better alternative for them.”
Although the mobile health care unit has only been active for a few months, the organization hopes to increase its number of patients and continue preventive measures. “It is such a good idea,” says Diop. “It really does benefit the community.”