Focus on early diagnosis of HIV infection to improve treatment and prevention
PHOENIX (March 9, 2021) – It may surprise many that more than 11,000 residents of Maricopa County live with HIV and many more who are unaware of their status. For Valleywise Health, the numbers are a daily reality and in a continued effort to prevent the spread of HIV throughout our county, the public health safety net system recently completed expansion of opt-out HIV screenings at all 11 federally qualified health centers and emergency rooms at their main Roosevelt campus and Maryvale location.
In addition to the opt-out screenings, Valleywise Community Health Center – McDowell, the states’ leading provider of primary health care and HIV specialty treatment, also launched the availability of free home test kits shipped directly to your residence. These kits are available to any Maricopa County resident over the age of 18 and can be requested at valleywisehealth.org/HIVhometest. The test will be mailed in discreet packaging and includes detailed instructions of how to complete the test.
Patients who test negative either at a facility or through the home test, but may be considered high-risk can request consultation from Valleywise Health with prescription of the preventative medication, PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis), available at all locations. PrEP is a once daily medication that can be used in combination with other methods, such as condoms, to reduce risk of HIV infection by up to 99%. For those who test positive, a confirmatory test will be conducted and further assessment and treatment plans will be determined between patient and physician.
“Our goal is to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to learn if they are infected with HIV,” said Dr. Ann Khalsa, Medical Director of Valleywise Community Health Center – McDowell. “When individuals know their HIV status and either take Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) or quickly start HIV treatment, we can help stop transmission and support the goal of getting to no new infections by 2030.”
The testing expansion is possible in part thanks to a $582,000 grant from the Arizona Department of Health Services. In 2011 Valleywise Health Medical Center became the first hospital in Arizona to provide routine HIV screening in its emergency department, and since then has administered nearly 100,000 tests.
“Unfortunately, HIV still has a stigma attached to it that it somehow only effects certain populations, but like all viruses knows no boundaries,” says Dr. Khalsa. “The way in which these voluntary tests and at home tests can be conducted can be done easily, quickly and bring peace of mind to anyone who feels they are at-risk or potentially infected and I applaud those who take initiative to know their status.”
About Valleywise Health
Located in Phoenix, Arizona and named one of the 100 Top Hospitals in the nation by IBM Watson Health in 2020, Valleywise Health (formerly Maricopa Integrated Health System) has a proud tradition of being the community safety net health care system with a mission and commitment to serving the underserved. Valleywise Health consists of Valleywise Health Medical Center, Arizona’s only public teaching hospital, the only trauma center in Maricopa County verified by the American College of Surgeons to treat adults and children and Arizona’s only nationally verified Burn Center serving the entire Southwestern United States. Other services include the McDowell Healthcare Center, the largest provider of HIV primary care in Arizona, the Refugee Women’s Health Clinic, three behavioral health centers and 11 federally qualified community health centers. To learn more, please visit www.ValleywiseHealth.org.