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On Tuesday, August 2, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved funding for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health) to expand access to biomedical prevention options for LA County residents at highest risk for HIV infection.
“LA County continues to experience the second largest HIV epidemic in the country,” said LA County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl. “No single prevention program will completely curtail the spread of HIV, but expanding the use of PrEP could significantly reduce new infections. I am very glad to see our efforts go beyond the County’s own Public Health clinics, to engage our community-based health providers who can effectively reach the populations at greatest risk, including those who lack insurance.”
Long Beach is one of the most impacted communities by HIV in Los Angeles County. According to Public Health, in 2012, Long Beach had more new infections than any other region in LA County. “As a leader in HIV prevention, C.A.R.E. is excited to expand our services to include this important treatment modality,” said Ace Robinson, Executive Director for C.A.R.E. Program.
C.A.R.E. will offer all services related to PrEP for persons whether they are uninsured or underinsured patients through the support of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. In addition, C.A.R.E. offers health insurance navigation to help individuals enroll in Medi-Cal and Covered California. Financial barriers to PrEP present a barrier to access; it is cost-prohibitive for uninsured persons and many individuals with insurance still face high co-payments and deductibles. Through this grant, C.A.R.E. will breakdown these barriers.
According to the Center for Disease Control, PrEP is a once-daily medication (Truvada®) taken by persons who do not live with HIV that prevents HIV infection when exposed. Despite its effectiveness and growing popularity, there remains a need to increase PrEP use nationally and in Los Angeles County in order to make significant progress in the fight against HIV.
C.A.R.E. also offers post-exposure prophylaxis, or PEP, to individuals who have recently had a potential HIV exposure in the past three days. Additionally, C.A.R.E. provides assistance for behavioral/mental health needs and a risk-reduction model for those who would like to address substance abuse.
Founded in 1923 by the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, Dignity Health - St. Mary Medical Center is a highly-regarded 389-bed, acute care, nonprofit hospital that offers a full range of inpatient, outpatient and related health and wellness services to the greater Long Beach area. St. Mary is committed to providing a unique balance of high-quality, compassionate care that brings both healing and humanity to the body, mind and spirit of our patients. We deliver care to the sick while providing direct services to the underserved and advocate on their behalf.
The C.A.R.E. Program at Dignity Health – St. Mary Medical Center has a well-known tradition of support for the LGBTQ community for over 30 years. Only five years into awareness of the AIDS epidemic, the C.A.R.E. Program was founded in 1986 as a non-profit program that helps meet the needs of those affected by HIV by providing comprehensive specialized HIV treatment, prevention education and invaluable supportive services. C.A.R.E. is recognized, through the Human Rights Campaign, as a provider of inclusive and affirming health care to the LGBTQ community.