Joining the team that is putting AIDS on the defensive, the Oakland Raiders for the first time at an NFL game handed out over 7,500 condoms and offered HIV testing to the public at the Sunday game in Oakland against the Cleveland Browns.
Making history one day after World AIDS Day, Dec. 1, Raider officials allowed AIDS service organizations from Alameda County along with health departments from San Francisco and Alameda County to park a clinic equipped motorhome among the tailgaters, offering patrons free HIV testing before the game.
Sixty-five volunteer –nurses, testers, and organizers – provided the services despite the record-breaking winds and torrential rain
By the beginning of the game, 30 tests were administered, with one person testing positive for HIV.
“They await confirmation, and if confirmed positive, they will be offered care immediately,” said Adriann McCall, HIV/AIDS Regional Resource Coordinator, US Department of Health and Human Services.
According to Braunz E. Courtney, counseling and testing and referrals coordinator for the HIV Education and Prevention Project (HEPPAAC), “At 6 a.m. it was raining, and the wind was so bad that at first all we could do is hold things down until it died down.”
But by 9 a.m., the sun had come out, and HEPPAAC workers were ready to test.
Unlike other public health campaigns such as heart disease and diabetes, there is no other disease that carries the stigma that HIV/AIDS does – so it was heroic for the Raiders to take on the cause.
Celebrating World AIDS day at the game was Osagie Enalule, president of Oakland and Benin Sister City Association. “We’re making progress,” he said. “But it’s time for the human race to come together as a global community.”
Overall 2,000 black and silver rubber wristbands were passed out that had the label of the new 60-second results test that was being used.
The rapid Insti HIV 1Antibody test is reported to be over 95 percent accurate and was utilized for the first time in the U.S. in August at Oakland’s Art and Soul festival.
Though the test is quick, it requires a registered nurse to administer it.
The Nurse’s Children Foundation brought a team of 8 nurses, including Leslie Silket, an RN for 22 years, who said, “Anything we can do to help is our desire.”
The fans were supportive of the testing, according to a Raiders official, who said the team would conduct further evaluations to decide on future testing at games.