"I have to take it every day for the rest of my life."
Deadra Lawson-Smith is a grandmother and HIV positive. Her boyfriend dropped the news 21 years ago.
"He said well you might as well stay with me 'cause I have AIDS and you probably got it too," said Deadra Lawson-Smith.
It's no wonder she urges early testing for at-risk folks. Mobile testing labs like this one in South Carolina are helping that cause, popping up across the U.S. in droves.
"There shouldn't be a person out here that's had sex that doesn't know their status, period," said Bambi Gaddist, D.P.H., Founder South Carolina HIV/AIDS Council.
On average, 56,000 people are infected with HIV each year. Government stats show nearly one-in-three cases are diagnosed too late to slow the onset of AIDS. These vehicles are equipped with full labs - giving test results in just 20 minutes. A new report shows their growing importance. Recently, two-point-two-percent of new HIV diagnoses were delivered via dedicated clinic. And point-seven-percent of new notifications came from mobile units - or nearly 400 of the 56,000 annually infected.
"We can't just sit in our offices and think that people will just come in the door and ask for an HIV test," said Bambi Gaddist, D.P.H.
Beyond that - more than 64% of those tested preferred a mobile test to a standard one.
"The not knowing is what kills you. I believe I'm still here today because of early testing," said Deadra Lawson-Smith.
Now, Deadra watches while mobile workers handout condoms and encourage the community. It's a start, for sure.
For More Information, Contact:Bambi Gaddist, DPHExecutive DirectorSouth Caolina HIV/AIDS Councilbamewame@aol.com