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Valleywise Health Marks “PrEP Awareness Week” by Expanding Access to Medication That Can Prevent HIV

Public health safety net offering walk-in testing, PrEP consultations Oct. 25 – 30


PHOENIX (October 22, 2020) – Advancements in medications to treat and prevent the transmission of HIV have come a long way since the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1980’s and 90’s. But with more than 11,000 Maricopa County residents living with HIV today, awareness of HIV, and more importantly the medications available to stop transmission continue to be a focus of Valleywise Health. In recognition of National Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) Awareness Week (Oct. 25 – 30), Valleywise Community Health Center – McDowell is offering walk-in HIV testing and PrEP prescription consultation all week from 8 am to 5 pm, no appointment necessary.  

PrEP is a once a day pill that prevents HIV transmission. It boasts a greater than 99% rate of effectiveness if taken regularly and studies have shown PrEP is safe and has a low rate of minor side effects. PrEP is for individuals who are HIV negative, so the first step is to get an HIV test. There is a medication option available for anyone regardless of sex or sexual orientation.

Dr. Ann Khalsa, the medical director at Valleywise Community Health Center – McDowell, is a passionate proponent of HIV prevention and PrEP. She notes that “HIV infection is preventable. But we are still nowhere near providing PrEP to the estimated 25,000 Arizonans who could benefit from HIV prevention. PrEP is so effective that it is a top-level recommendation from the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force and is a key component, along with testing and treatment, of the U.S. national goal to prevent new cases of HIV and end this decades long epidemic.”

PrEP does not protect users from Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) like syphilis or chlamydia. Using PrEP and condoms together provides protection from HIV and most STIs.

In 2011, Valleywise Health Medical Center became the first hospital in Arizona to provide routine HIV screening in its emergency department and is now expanding testing throughout their entire network of emergency departments and 12 community health centers across the Valley. By the end of the year, voluntary HIV screening will be a routine part of medical care for its patients and all Valleywise Health sites will be able to provide PrEP and Rapid HIV treatment to all newly tested persons. PrEP prescriptions are now covered under the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) and Valleywise Health can also assist patients in obtaining coverage for HIV testing and PrEP therapy.

Valleywise Community Health Center – McDowell is the largest provider of primary HIV care and treatment in Arizona, serving more than 4,000 patients living with HIV. The center treats and educates a high volume of LGBTQ patients, both HIV-positive and HIV-negative individuals, including provision of gender-affirming hormonal therapy. For this work at McDowell and system-wide, Valleywise Health was recognized by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation as an LGBTQ Healthcare Equality Leader in 2020.

To learn more about Valleywise Community Health Center – McDowell and the HIV services provided, please visit www.valleywisehealth.org/locations.

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 neighborhood health centers. To learn more, please visit www.ValleywiseHealth.org

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