Nation of Change: AIDS Healthcare Foundation Administers Free HIV Testing in Self-Operated Thrift Stores

Nation of Change

Caring for people worldwide living with HIV and AIDS, AHF is constantly creating innovative ways to deliver healthcare to more people, test a greater population for HIV and be an advocate for prevention.

They might look like typical thrift stores from the outside where people browse racks of clothes or donate their unwanted goods, but inside these one-stop shops, free HIV tests are being administered, while baskets of free condoms promote safe sex. Look no further than the nearest Out of the Closet Thrift Stores, owned and operated by AIDS Healthcare Foundation—a global non-profit organization and provider of HIV and AIDS medical care—which makes it easily accessible for people to “know their status.” With test results revealed in a minute, AHF not only provides HIV testing at their thrift stores and health centers, the organization is dedicated to spreading global awareness about HIV and AIDS.

Caring for people worldwide living with HIV and AIDS, AHF is constantly creating innovative ways to deliver healthcare to more people, test a greater population for HIV and be an advocate for prevention.

“Our mission is to fund both United States and global HIV and AIDS care,” Lori Yeghiayan Friedman, Associate Director of Communications at AHF, said. “We provide cutting-edge medicine and advocacy regardless of ability to pay.”

And AHF, which formed in 1987, prides itself on treatment no matter a person’s healthcare status. Their highly trained clinical research teams are determined to provide the best in treatment practices, while giving people access to the newest medications no matter what.

“We are a service provider,” Yeghiayan Friedman said. “HIV testing should be widespread and everyone should know their status, so we want to make it that easy.”

The Los Angeles-based organization independently operates under their own “self-created” social enterprises, like Out of the Closet Thrift Stores and AHF Pharmacies, as a way to continue to provide medical and advocacy services worldwide. Rather than rely on individual funding or federal grants, the business from these social enterprises goes directly back into the organization, which helps fund continuing HIV and AIDS healthcare to people in over 27 countries.

“Ninety-six cents of every dollar earned goes right back into providing our services to people in need in the United States, Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, the Asia Pacific Region and Eastern Europe,” Yeghiayan Friedman said, “so you can be assured that funds really do go directly to helping people.”

Out of the Closet Thrift Stores’ goal is to makes HIV testing easy; the free “insti-tests” are administered on a walk-in basis by trained technicians and confidential rapid results are provided immediately. AHF encourages the use of their thrift stores to inspire people to know their statuses and help give back to both the local and global economy through their continued business.

“That is why our HIV testing is accessible, easy and non-threatening,” Yeghiayan Friedman said.

While AHF operates 24 Out of the Closet Thrift Stores positioned throughout most of California, in major cities in Florida, one location in Brooklyn, New York and another in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, AHF is also mobilizing their testing efforts through vans—a “non-traditional,” but highly capable venue. HIV and STD testings are completed by trained technicians, referred to as “linkage counselors,” onboard the van and, just as in the thrift stores, results are provided to people within a minute.

“Our linkage counselors take a proactive approach in helping people take the next steps toward prevention or treatment,” Yeghiayan Friedman said. “Our concern in the HIV and AIDS community is people not taking the appropriate next steps, so we want to ensure that people aren’t lagging and get immediately connected to healthcare.”

As AHF tries to “rid the world of AIDS,” their stance on prevention starts with widespread HIV testing and global awareness. And their biggest goal is to see that one billion people get tested yearly as AHF aims to save more lives.

To find an Out of the Closet Thrift Store near you, click here.

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