“Testing is still a little light compared to what it was pre-COVID, but still, testing for HIV, syphilis, and hepatitis C is on the upswing,” says Leon Golson, Prevention Manager for UNIFIED, in Detroit. During the COVID shutdown, the organization mailed out HIV home test kits, which were donated by the Greater Than AIDS campaign and by test kit companies themselves. On-site testing at the agency’s two locations (the other is in Ypsilanti) went from walk-ins to by appointment only. Today, people can go to the UNIFIED website to make an appointment for testing or have a test kit mailed to them. “We’re still seeing more people come in for appointments than asking for kits,” Golson says. “For me personally, I want to talk with someone when I’m calling a company about a problem. So I think that’s what’s happening when it comes to HIV and STI testing. People want to have a sense of trust. They want to look at another person and have the information explained.”

As for setting up the test, “I’m so old school, but people who are familiar and comfortable with the technology don’t have a problem making their appointments online. Our state health department is a big supporter of telemedicine, but it’s just a matter of, do agencies like ours have the infrastructure? And do we have the financial support to step that up?” There’s also the question of access for clients. “A lot of folks just don’t have phones or access to a computer. So even though there’s a shift toward more technology-based prevention or technology-based care, we still have to have room for the old school way of meeting folks face-to-face and you know, helping them out with what they need. Because not everyone is going to have access to that. And I would venture to say not everyone wants access to it. We want to always make sure that we’re not losing that human element or the ability to meet individuals where they’re at.”