The Center for AIDS Research, Education and Services (CARES) hosted a Dance Competition to encourage youth to get tested for HIV on April 13 in Sacramento, CA. The goal was to test over 100 youth and give gift cards to the first 100 people to get tested for HIV. For CARES, Tango Card came to mind because of the Youth Program Coordinator – Ericka Dennis’ past experience. Ericka says, “It is simple to use and it allows people to use their credits how they want, making the Tango Card a perfect incentive to give at this event.”
The Youth Peer Educator program at CARES are currently training 10 young people to become HIV Testers and Risk Reduction Counselors. Outreach events such as this help reach the youth where they are rather than waiting for them to come to their clinic. The Youth Peer Educators were assigned many tasks at this event but the main task was to encourage the youth who attended to get tested for HIV. Ericka says, “At first, it was hard convincing people to get tested for HIV, but once we stated they would get a gift card, their eyes widened. And, when we explained that the gift card gives them access to many options and they could choose what they want to use it on, many people rushed to get tested.”
CARES understands that getting tested may be taboo for many people. They also knew that getting tested in a public setting might be a bit difficult for some people. Because of Tango Card, they were able to test over 60 young people for HIV. As Ericka explains, “Without the incentive, we may not have reached half that number.”
The Youth Peer Educator program is supported by Kaiser Permanente Northern California Benefit Programs and their goal is to test 1,000 youth for HIV within a year. Ericka adds, “We would not hesitate to use Tango Card again in order to help us reach our overall goal.”
CARES is the largest HIV/AIDS nonprofit clinic in the Sacramento region and is a place of hope for thousands of people from all over the Central Valley who need testing, clinic services and counseling. Since CARES began in 1989, they’ve made incredible strides in their treatment options for people living with HIV/AIDS, their long-term financial stability, and their role as a leader in the Sacramento community.