A Bold New Plan Could Keep More HIV/AIDS Patients in Treatment

Sarah E. Weir
Original Article:  bit.ly/1DrzrJJ

One of the greatest obstacles to fighting HIV is keeping people in treatment. Although there have been huge advances in HIV medical care and prevention, a recent analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that only four in 10 Americans diagnosed with the virus are being treated for the disease. To help curb this statistic, one organization has developed a model that goes way beyond testing and prescription services—it’s creating an entire lifestyle.

Southwest Center for HIV/AIDS, a cutting-edge facility in downtown Phoenix, offers clients everything from child care and an on-site pharmacy to counseling and wellness programs—and even perks such as massages and acupuncture. It’s a full range of services aimed at keeping patients on track. “When people are diagnosed, it can be scary and life-changing,” says Ken Gabel, the center’s board chair. “You might get a diagnosis at a testing center, and then you are basically handed a flier.” According to Gabel, without more backup, too many patients fall through the cracks.

There is a big financial incentive as well; most of the center’s services—used by about 30,000 people a year—are provided at no or low cost. “Our clients are primarily people who live under the poverty line,” says Mesha Davis, the organization’s chief development officer. Davis says some clients are unable to work because of their medical condition; others, fearing stigma, may have left their families.

To keep the complex operation running seamlessly, the center relies on public funding as well as private donations. Gabel says one of his passions is being involved with the annual Dining Out For Life event sponsored by Subaru. “We do black-tie events,” he says, “but that’s not our client base.” Dining Out For Life is an opportunity for everyday people, including the center’s clients, to help spread the message and give back by enjoying an affordable meal at a participating restaurant. “Subaru has been a blessing for our organization,” adds Davis, “and helps us promote Dining Out For Life year-round.”

Full text of article available at link below:  bit.ly/1DrzrJJ