The Siouxland Community Health Center is sending its Mobile Medical Van to some unexpected places. This summer it’s appeared in the parking lot of several meatpacking plants. Darla Peterson is director of the health center’s HIV Program. She says one of the reasons to go to plants is that there’s a disproportionate number of Hispanics infected, and their numbers are high among workers at the packing plants. Peterson says they’ve also parked the van outside concert halls where crowds stream through the doors for musical performances. She says they’ll bring the van to any location in order to get people tested. She says it’s not that they think everyone who attends a rock concert or works in a packing plant is infected, it’s just to offer testing to everybody. She adds that often the free blood-pressure checks sometimes find people who measure very high, even at stroke level, and referring them for care may have saved lives. Peterson says people are more willing to go to the van than to pass through the doors of a medical clinic to get a free test. She says HIV and AIDS are still a huge problem:Even coming around and letting people know that HIV is still around increasing may help, she says, and people can wander in and get some information and answers without taking a test, so it may increase awareness. Peterson says they are working with the Nebraska AIDS project and touring with the screening van in that state, too.
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