Red Project warns of HIV risks

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) -- As we mentioned earlier, Indiana's governor is issuing a public health emergency for the southern part of that state following an HIV outbreak.

Since mid-December, 79 people there have tested positive for the virus, and many of them are intravenous drug users.

Steve Alsum is Executive Director of the Red Project in Grand Rapids, an organization dedicated to HIV prevention and awareness. He joined the WZZM 13 News at 5 to talk about the growing problem of heroin use, which involves needles.

Heroin use is up 80 percent in the last five years, especially among teenagers.

In Grand Rapids, there has been a needle exchange program for more than 15 years, and Alsum says it has brought the number of HIV cases involving dirty needles down from 25 percent to 10 percent.

There are also resources for HIV testing. The Grand Rapids Red Project provides free, confidential, anonymous, and rapid HIV testing by appointment and at community locations. Testing is performed by state-certified HIV test counselors, requires only a small blood sample from a finger stick, and can deliver a result in less than 20 minutes."

Currently, walk-in testing is available at the following times and locations, which are subject to change:

  • Every Monday night at Heartside Ministries (48 South Division) from 6:00-8:00pm
  • Every Second Saturday at Diversions Nightclub (10 Fountain St NW) until midnight
  • Every Fourth Thursday at Rumors Nightclub (69 South Division) until midnight

By appointments at the red Project office (343 Atlas Avenue) on Mondays and Thursdays from 1:00-4:00pm
Finally, on April 30, there is the annual Dining Out for Life, when a number of restaurants are donating a portion of their proceeds to help support the Red Project.

Learn more about the Red Project at this link.


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