About 100 people gathered on New Year's Day at the Pasadena 'Out
of the Closet' thrift store operated by leading global nonprofit AIDS
Healthcare Foundation (AHF) to hear the announcement of who would be
the lucky winner of a new 2012 Fiat 500 convertible from the
organization's four-month-long "Test-to-Win" contest. Over 2,000 people
entered the contest by getting a free HIV test at over a dozen
affiliated testing events since September or joining the contest online,
and that list was narrowed down to just 100 finalists in December.
Of those finalists, 44 showed up at the Pasadena winner announcement
gala on the first day of the new year - a requirement in eligibility to
win the car - waiting and shopping in the thrift store with their
friends until the official drawing at 6 p.m., which was conducted by Marcos
Ledesma, 36, and Francis Xavier De Melo, 48, two
international AHF representatives who flew in from Mexico and India,
respectively, to ride on the organization's Tournament
of Roses float, 'The Global Face of AIDS,' which highlighted the
breadth of AHF's global work in the fight against HIV/AIDS and which won
the Queen's Trophy for best use of roses. This is AHF's second
consecutive win of the prestigious award.
As the contestants anxiously looked on, Francis blindly pulled a name
from the basket Marcos had shaken up, and he announced that the winner
was 22-year-old Pacific Plisades resident Elizabeth Conn, who
gleefully came forward to claim the key to her brand new car, which came
The "Test-to-Win" contest - a media and awareness campaign to encourage
more widespread HIV testing - began on September 22 with a testing event
where AHF introduced bioLytical
Rapid HIV Test, which provides 99.9% accurate results in just one
minute. Though this innovatively easy and quick test has been used in
countries throughout Africa and elsewhere for over four years, the
September event was its premiere introduction to American testers
following its July approval by the Food and Drug Administration, and AHF
continues to exclusively offer the test at their myriad testing
facilities nationwide and through the mobile testing vans they dispatch
in major cities across the country.
At the time of the September launch of the INSTI™ Rapid HIV Test, Whitney
Engeran-Cordova, Senior Director of AHF's Public Health Division,
said, "The increased availability of the INSTI™ 60-second rapid test in
the U.S. is a game-changer and will allow for large-scale testing events
and new ways for point-of-care testing in Emergency Rooms. Most
importantly, it will lead to new techniques of reaching people."
"AHF has used more than one million INSTI™ tests over the past four
years in our programs and partnerships in Uganda, India, Mexico and
Estonia," said Terri Ford, Chief of Global Policy and Advocacy.
"We find it to be the best test out there today, and very popular with
testing partners around the world. We are very glad that we can now also
bring this testing technology home to people here in the U.S."
Conn entered the contest by being one of the twenty entrants who got
tested at a testing event held at West Hollywood's LA Sports Club
clothing store on Halloween. No one tested positive for HIV at that
event, and of the 894 total people who were tested at the 13 events held
throughout the Southland between September and December, only five of
those people tested positive for the virus and were linked to treatment.
Another 1,400 people entered the contest online or by signing up with
AHF representatives via iPad at the various testing events, which were
held in conjunction with events like the West Hollywood Auto Show, the
AIDS Project LA AIDS Walk, Go-Go Dancer Appreciation Day, and KIIS FM's
AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) is the largest non-profit HIV/AIDS
healthcare provider in the USA. AHF currently provides medical care
and/or services to more than 183,000 individuals in 28 countries
worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean Eastern Europe and
Asia. Additional information is available at www.aidshealth.org.
For more information on testing and testing locations, visit www.freehivtest.net.
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