While December is for many a month of giving, celebrating, and spending time with family, it is also a time to raise awareness for HIV/AIDS. Since 1988, The World Health Organization has declared December 1st World AIDS Day, seeking to raise awareness, reduce stigma, and bring attention to programs around the globe that are working to halt and reverse the spread of HIV infection. Since 2000, the world has achieved many goals that once seemed out-of-reach: new infections have fallen by 35%, AIDS-related deaths by 24%, and some 16 million people living with HIV (out of an estimated 37 million at the end of 2014) are now receiving antiretroviral treatment. While this progress is thoroughly commended, United Nations world leaders have agreed to an even more ambitious target: to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic entirely by 2030.
In the U.S., approximately 1.2 million people are living with HIV, and nearly 1 in 8 does not know they are infected, according to recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control. In Colorado, over 11,500 people were living with HIV or AIDS in 2012, and 329 adults and adolescents were diagnosed with HIV in 2013. Based on Uniform Data System Reporting for 2014, Colorado Community Health Centers (CHCs) treated over 1,400 HIV-positive patients, and diagnosed 103 new cases of HIV. CHCs make up the backbone of the primary care safety-net for underserved Coloradans, and so it is not surprising that CHCs treat and diagnose a significant portion of all HIV cases in the state. In addition to providing care regardless of patients’ ability to pay, some CHCs also receive Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program funding to provide education, diagnostic testing, oral health care, and medical treatment to patients with HIV/AIDS.
The Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program is administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), and the HIV/AIDS Bureau (HAB). The program began in 1990, and continues to provide funding (over $2.3 billion in 2014) to cities, states, and community-based organizations nationwide to provide essential support services and primary medical care—as well as technical assistance, clinical training, and research on innovative models of care—to HIV/AIDS patients who would otherwise not have sufficient health care coverage or financial resources to cope with the disease. As grantees of the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, CHCs play a crucial role in providing care to HIV/AIDS patients in both urban and rural areas.
Metro Community Provider Network (MCPN) runs a Ryan White HIV Clinic in Aurora, Colorado to provide free or low-cost confidential medical, dental, and support services for individuals living with HIV/AIDS. This specialty care clinic is open once a week, on Thursdays, and more information about the clinic and its services can be found on MCPN’s website.
Are you interested in a mission driven career that helps make a difference in patients’ lives? Check out the Mission Driven Careers Job Board or the CHAMPS Job Opportunity Bank for more information about rewarding careers with a Colorado CHC. To learn more about Colorado’s CHCs and other great work they are doing, visit CCHN’s website.