Getting HIV out of the closet

Akemi Tamanaha, Writer

This week the streets of San Francisco were filled with rainbow colored flags and signs. Rainbows and statements relating to LGBT pride appeared in almost every shop window in Union Square. San Francisco had created its own world of color in preparation for its annual Pride Parade.

The rainbow flags and statements of pride are not uncommon in San Francisco. However, they are only commonplace in certain areas of the city. One such area is the Castro District. In the Castro District, members of the LBGT community live their lives proudly and receive support from community members. Among them is Perry Rhodes III

“I like the way things seem to be in terms of opportunities for LBTQZI members now,” states Rhodes, who is gay himself. He is also the proud program manager of free, mobile HIV testing, which he program Rhodes manages travels around San Francisco in a van offering free HIV, HPV, and even syphilis testing. He says the truck services about 40 people per week.

In th days leading up to San Francisco’s pride parade, Walgreens partnered with a national initiative called Greater Than AIDS to provide free HIV testing. Walgreens partnered with Greater Than AIDS in support and recognition of National HIV Testing Day on June 27th.

The van was also promototing a specific Greater Than AIDS campaign called Speak Out. Speak Out was developed locally with the San Francisco Department of Public Health. The campaign seeks to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS. One of it’s slogans is “Let’s Bring HIVOut of the Closet”.

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