By Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – It’s National HIV Testing Day and today the popular Philly AIDS Thrift officially opens its HIV testing center.READ MORE: Philadelphia Weather: Chance Of Severe Weather As Parts Of Region Could See Up To 3 Inches Of Rain
The new 300-square foot testing center is nestled inside of the Philly AIDS Thrift store near 5th and Bainbridge. The waiting area is on the second floor and sports cat pictures on the walls, with a private room for testing next door.
“There may be folks that are running on fear going into a clinical setting, we provided a warm welcoming environment where people can feel comfortable,” says Christina Kallas-Saritsoglou, co-founder and co-manager of the store. She says Action AIDS, Bebashi, GALAEI, Mazzoni Center and Philadelphia FIGHT will man the center on rotating weekends, providing free, confidential, rapid testing with results in 15 minutes.
“Putting a testing site right in the middle of a retail space sort of normalizes the idea of HIV testing,” she says, “they’re here and they say, why not, why not be tested.”READ MORE: DA Larry Krasner Joins New Initiative To Fight Gun Violence In West/Southwest Philadelphia
Saritsoglu says the non-profit sells used items and donates $20,000 a month to 19 area HIV and AIDS organizations.
The testing center will also make counseling available inside of the private office. She says the new offerings further the mission of AIDS Thrift:
“We want to have a greater, more direct impact in the community.”
Testing will be offered each month from noon to 4 p.m. on the first and third Saturday and Sunday, and the second and fourth Friday and Saturday. Hours for the fifth weekend will be announced.MORE NEWS: Man Fighting For Life After Being Shot 16 Times In North Philadelphia Double Shooting, Police Say
For more information and the week’s agency schedule, visit www.phillyaidsthrift.com or call 215-922-3186. The weekly agency schedule will also be posted on Facebook and outside the store.