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ONE Charlotte Health Alliance is providing free HIV testing Wednesday

ONE Charlotte Health Alliance
ONE Charlotte Health Alliance is providing free HIV testing through its mobile health units as part of National HIV Testing Day.

ONE Charlotte Health Alliance is providing free HIV testing.

ONE Charlotte Health Alliance is deploying its mobile health units at The Brookwood Inn and the Crisis Assistance Ministry today to provide free HIV testing from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. No appointments are necessary. The event is part of National HIV Testing Day, which takes place on June 27. While this event is being held by the non-profit, other organizations are able to request mobile health units and host their own events.

This is the first event ONE Charlotte Health Alliance — formed jointly by Atrium Health, Novant Health, and the Mecklenburg County Department of Public Health —is hosting after pausing services during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic two years ago. Intended to provide free preventive care for the community, its mobile health units officially resumed services in mid-April and are stationed in high-need zip codes on Tuesdays and every other Thursday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The zip codes include 28205, 28206, 28208, 28212, 28216, 28217 and are based on the 2019 Mecklenburg County Community Health Assessment. According to the 2018 assessment, this part of town is designated a Public Health Priority Area and is “linked with higher rates of chronic diseases, infectious diseases, and deaths related to these conditions.”

2019 Mecklenburg Community Health Assessment

The Charlotte metropolitan area is ranked among the worst 25% of metropolitan areas in the region for new HIV infections, according to Mecklenburg County Health Program Manager Kayla Early. In 2021, 281 people were diagnosed with HIV and 71 were diagnosed with AIDS, the late stage of HIV infection. There are disparities in HIV infection rates linked to factors such as geographic areas, income, and race and ethnicity, with Black residents accounting for 6 out of 10 new HIV infections.

ONE Charlotte Health Alliance is currently conducting a health assessment survey to determine where services are needed the most. It’s also collecting feedback on the services it currently provides to help guide which services are offered in the future, according to ONE Charlotte Health Alliance Operations Director Emily Lancucki.

"While non-profits are agents of change, we are often very resistant to it in our own mission and services, and that is not the case with ONE Charlotte Health Alliance," Lancucki said. "We are very much seeking to be a reflection of what the community needs."

Lancucki emphasized how a combination of factors can contribute to someone's physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing, such as access to transportation and mistrust of the medical community. One Charlotte Health Alliance works closely with community leaders to receive feedback on its initiatives and to connect with residents who are most in need of their services

"Things change and people move, and the ebb and flow (of) socioeconomics obviously contributes to that," Lancucki said. "We're seeing a real uptick and need for food and additional referral services. Food is medicine, so certainly it is a great way to combat a lot of the chronic diseases that we're screening for on the health units."

In addition to its two units dedicated to health services, ONE Charlotte Health Alliance also has two units dedicated to food insecurity and operates in conjunction with Loaves & Fishes. The units that distribute specialty food boxes are stationed at different locations on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Kamille Houston is a WFAE intern covering stories grounded in community outreach and engagement. She is currently studying English at the University of Pennsylvania, where she writes on race and equity for the student newspaper The Daily Pennsylvanian.