Nashville, TN — While it may look funny, the people behind the Condom Truck take their efforts in preventing the spread of AIDS and HIV in Nashville very seriously.
“It does draw attention,” said Ron Crowder, executive director of Street Works. “It says on the van, ‘Hold out your hand, here comes the Condom Man.'”
Crowder said he is on a mission.
“To find people who are HIV-positive and don’t know what they are HIV-positive, because those are the people who are responsible for over 50 percent of all the new infections today,” he said.
Knowing that many of those patients will not come to a clinic, Crowder and his team bring the clinic to them with their outreach van.
They are able to perform on-the-spot HIV and Hepatitis C testing.
“We can get them into treatment, get them to optimal viral suppression where they won’t be a risk of transmitting the virus to other people,” Crowder said.
Along with testing, the outreach van tries to educate people about risk by handing out free condoms and leaving a few behind for those too shy to come to the van.
“We put condoms in buckets at barber shops and beauty shops,” said Thomas Gooch, a volunteer. “So when we ain’t here and people still need condoms, they can go straight inside the barber shop right here.”
Crowder and his staff are now adding a second outreach truck.
“It’s going to look pretty good,” he said. “It’s a pretty nice vehicle.”