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Downtown Corpus Christi businesses promote HIV testing

Posted at 6:24 PM, Oct 15, 2021

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A lot of Hispanic people know the fun that goes along with playing Loteria, but if you don’t know what that is, it’s a game that’s kind of like Bingo, except with pictures.

The Coastal Bend Wellness Foundation is hosting an event on Friday that is inspired by the game in the hopes of getting people tested for HIV.

Participants will do a rapid test at BUS that will give them their results in less than a minute. They will then get a loteria playing card that they will present at seven other participating bars in Downtown Corpus Christi. The person that finishes the scavenger hunt first will get a prize.

The Coastal Bend Wellness Foundation is partnering with local bars to raise awareness about getting tested for HIV.

Olives Ramos works at Muse as their event coordinator, and said it’s important to get tested because it’s important to take charge of your health. She said she gets tested for HIV and is hoping to get tested at the event as well.

“It’s important to people that you’re involved with, people that you love now and in the future. If you don’t know, if you’re just avoiding it, then you’re putting the people in your life at risk,” Ramos said.

House of Rock is also one of the participating bars. Owner Casey Lain said he has known friends of his that have passed away from AIDs, but also ones that have taken advantage of the resources available to people who are diagnosed with HIV. He said the event is a good opportunity for people to get tested.

“We have a wide variety of people that come through our doors, a cross-range of people from the community so it’s a good opportunity,” Lain said.

According to Texas D.S.H.S, male Hispanics between the ages of 25-29 made up the most HIV diagnoses in 2019.

The Coastal Bend Wellness Foundation’s director of community health outreach, Allison Johnson, said Hispanics in the Coastal Bend have been disproportionately affected by HIV.

She said there are options like Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, also known as PrEP, to prevent HIV, and Post-Exposure Prophylaxis, or PEP, for those that may think they have been exposed to HIV. Those on PEP will need to take it within 72 hours to reduce their chances of getting HIV. She said there are also antiretroviral medications for those that have HIV to lower their symptoms and viral load so they do not pass on the virus to somebody else.

“The sooner you’re on medications, the sooner you can start living a healthy, long life and reduce that virus in your system,” Johnson said.