Newswise — June 27 is National HIV Testing Day and Loyola University Health System will celebrate as they do every day – by offering free HIV testing to patients in the emergency department and at select immediate care centers.
“We currently offer HIV testing at our Maywood emergency department and also at Loyola Burr Ridge immediate care” says Beatrice Probst, MD, medical director of the immediate care centers at Loyola University Health System. Expanding testing to the Loyola Park Ridge immediate care center starts Friday, June 27, which is National HIV Testing Day.
“In 2014 alone, Loyola’s testing program identified three new HIV-infected patients. One was acute HIV, meaning the individual had recently acquired the infection and is at the most infectious stage,” says Probst.
Funded by a Centers for Disease Control (CDC) research grant in collaboration with Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), patients in the Loyola ED and immediate care centers are offered a free HIV test.
Since January, 2014, 2492 patients were offered the free HIV test at the Loyola emergency department in Maywood and at Loyola’s Burr Ridge immediate care center. “944 patients agreed to be tested for HIV and with the expansion of our program locations, we anticipate high numbers for 2014,” says Probst. Patients who are diagnosed with HIV are referred to Loyola’s HIV clinic for treatment.
The HIV clinic has been treating patients at Loyola for more than two decades. “The multidisciplinary Loyola HIV Clinic has been continuously funded by the federal government through the Ryan White Care Act allowing provision of care to uninsured patients. Through that program and other health insurance we treat over 400 HIV patients annually,” says Paul O’Keefe, MD, medical director, HIV clinic. The Loyola HIV Clinic also regularly conducts clinical research trials.
The Student Training in Approach to Research (STAR) program at Loyola’s Stritch School of Medicine supported the initial pilot for free HIV testing at Loyola in 2011.
In 2013, the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force gave a level A recommendation to screen for HIV in adolescents and adults, understanding the importance of early identification of infection and the role that the emergency department can provide in the process.