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OHA using van to take HIV survey, testing effort to target populations

‘Chime In’ effort is part of End HIV Oregon effort launched in December 2016
May 19, 2017

PORTLAND, OR—The Oregon Health Authority is deploying a new piece of technology as it helps the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention learn more about risk behaviors among groups at highest risk for HIV infection: a Ford Transit van.

The van is emblazoned with the logo of Chime In, the local name for the CDC-funded National HIV Behavioral Surveillance Project (NHBS) that OHA and Portland State University are conducting in partnership with the Cascade AIDS Project (CAP). Starting in June, the van will be deployed to dozens of venues in the Portland-Vancouver metropolitan area that are popular with the project’s focus population: gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men.

Members of the Chime In staff, who are based in the HIV Program at the OHA’s Public Health Division and CAP, will conduct surveys of individuals at 15 to 30 randomly selected venues—bars, clubs, sporting events, social and community events—up to two times per month. They will also conduct interviews at special events such as PRIDE. Participants will receive $25 cash for completing an interview, and $25 for taking an HIV test.

"We want people to recognize the Chime In van and participate in the survey if they’re approached by a member of the Chime In team," said Sean Schafer, MD, medical director for HIV programs at OHA. "Participants will be helping us gather important information about risk behaviors, and they get a test in the process so they can learn their HIV status."

The van can accommodate up to three interview and HIV tests at a time. Both the survey and test are anonymous, and participants have the option of opting out of the HIV test. People should know that the Chime In surveyors are actually prohibited from interviewing people who approach the Chime In van or staff on their own. Participants must wait to be invited to participate.

Questions in the survey are related to risk behaviors and prevention services among groups at highest risk for HIV infection. Anonymous HIV testing builds knowledge of the prevalence of previously unrecognized HIV infection among men who have sex with men in the Portland-Vancouver area. Locally specific questions help inform public health officials and others about the uptake and impact of public health activities designed to reduce HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.

In addition, local questions collect information about other important health issues such as homelessness and opioid misuse. Overall, Chime In helps state and local health departments establish and maintain better HIV prevention and treatment programs for people in the Portland and Vancouver area.

The survey will contribute data crucial to the state’s End HIV Oregon initiative, which aims to eliminate all new HIV infections within the next five years, and ensure that all people living with HIV have access to high-quality care, free from stigma and discrimination.

"CAP is taking an active role in training the Chime In staff on topics such as working with LGBTQ+ community, HIV testing, HIV, sexually transmitted infections and PrEP," said Caitlin Wells, CAP’s director of prevention and education. PrEP is the acronym for pre-exposure prophylaxis, a daily pill that prevents HIV infection.

"We are also working on formative parts of the project, including providing input on survey locations and local questions to add to the project," Wells added. "The Chime In program will support CAP’s mission to promote health equity in our community by ensuring that the data exist to accurately track and reach people who are at risk for HIV."

The population surveyed in NHBS rotates annually among three groups: men who have sex with men (MSM), people who inject drugs (PWID), and heterosexuals at increased risk of HIV (HET). In 2017, the survey population is men who have sex with men.

The Portland-Vancouver metropolitan area is one of 22 cities across the country that participates in NHBS.

For more information about Chime In, visit

View a YouTube video about Chime In at

About Cascade AIDS Project

Cascade AIDS Project is the oldest and largest AIDS Service Organization in Oregon and Southwest Washington. Prism Health, a primary care health center, is an integral part of CAP’s expanding mission to serve the broader LGBTQ+ community and will help remove barriers and improve access to health care for all LGBTQ+ individuals. For more information about CAP or Prism Health, visit or