"Our success rate is because of our approach and the trust developed over the years," says Brandon Armani, Unity's director of special populations.
"We don't come into a community until the groundwork is done, and we don't discriminate against users." He
also says they might see an increase in the 2006 numbers because of the citywide HIV testing initiative launched in June.
According to Armani
, Unity already has seen a 30 percent increase in overall requests for HIV tests.Most of the people coming in are aware of their sexual behaviors and risks of contracting the virus, he
Equally frustrating is the struggle often faced in Wards 7
and 8 to reach veteran substance abusers -- those who have been using for more than 20 years, says Armani
adds that controlling the rising rates of hard-core drug use and the rampant spread of STIs among DC teenagers is becoming an increasingly serious problem.
also shares the success story of a client who was an HIV-positive substance abuser and was several months pregnant when Unity workers reached out to her
.As a result of their outreach efforts, doctors were able to get the woman treatment and ultimately prevent her from transmitting HIV to her infant.
One year later, she
is sober and taking care of a healthy baby.