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But the main event at this Friday night dance-and-costume ball takes place beyond the main stage.At a series of private booths in the building's lower level, partygoers can opt to run a thin cotton swab across their gums.
"I hated having to tell people, 'You're HIV-positive.
One drizzly Thursday night on a busy corner in the heart of Chicago's "Boys Town" neighborhood, the van pulls over to a curb amid the taxis pouring out passengers on their way to dinner or the theater. She smiles broadly as she steps out of the van about a half-hour later, armed with pamphlets on HIV prevention.
A 20-year-old transgender woman wearing dangling gold earrings steps into the van, telling a Night Ministry worker that she is in a serious relationship and her family wanted her tested. If someone tests HIV-positive, the Night Ministry refers them to a clinic where they can be placed immediately on medication.
This month, the hospital plans to open a drop-in center on campus where gay teens and young adults can socialize, have a hot meal, get advice and become acquainted informally with medical staff. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago reaches out to young gays through a popular dating site called Grindr, which includes a "geosocial networking" phone application that allows users to see each other's locations."We can send a message saying, 'Hey, we're here, there's free testing going on today,' " says Anne Vulpas, Lurie's coordinator of HIV prevention.
"The idea is to break through the stigma and taboo by making this an open thing.
An emcee leads them in a chant of "Safe Sex, Best Sex!
" as a young man passes out condoms from a cardboard box.
Due to more effective medication, better education and earlier detection, HIV no longer means a death sentence.
A medication known as Pr EP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is often taken as a safeguard by people who are in a sexual relationship with someone who is infected.
Good luck, here's a phone number.' "Linking people to care focuses on the individual, Vulpas says, and "the specific barriers and challenges he or she faces on a day-to-day basis.
We work with these young adults to locate a clinic near their home. So if they're homeless, we help them with housing."These efforts appear to be working.
A young man named Adam, 28, swabs his mouth while getting tested for HIV and sexually transmitted infections during the Paragon III: Everlasting Fame World Aids Day Ball at the University of Chicago on Dec. The initiative spurred a number of cities across the USA, including New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Washington, Atlanta, Kansas City and St.