Valleywise Health expands HIV prevention programming

Valleywise Health’s McDowell clinic is the largest provider of HIV care and treatment in Arizona. The clinic aims to support those living with, or at risk of contracting HIV. It also offers preventative medications for individuals regardless of insurance coverage.

While advancements in medications to treat and prevent the transmission of HIV have dramatically evolved since the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, more than 11,000 Maricopa County residents are living with HIV today.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance Report, Phoenix has the nation's fourth-highest case rate of STDs (including HIV) after Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston.

Awareness of HIV, and more importantly the medications available to stop transmission, continue to be a focus of Valleywise Health. In recognition of the community need, HIV prevention services are now offered at all Valleywise Health community health centers.

One of the most effective HIV prevention tools available today is Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP). 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, and Valleywise Health offers a variety of options for HIV testing including at a PrEP focused appointment, through routine screening, and even through a free at-home option which can be ordered at valleywisehealth.org/hiv-home-test. PrEP is for any individual wishing to prevent HIV infection regardless of identity or insurance coverage.

Dr. Ann Khalsa, the medical director at Valleywise Community Health Center – McDowell, is a passionate proponent of HIV prevention and PrEP. She says:

“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.”

—Dr. Ann Khalsa

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 PrEP therapy. For those with other insurance coverage or without insurance, Valleywise Health staff can assist in navigating options for prescription coverage. This includes a patient assistance program for those without insurance to cover medication costs. (PrEP does not protect users from STIs like syphilis or chlamydia. Using PrEP and condoms together provide protection from HIV and most STIs.)

To learn more about PrEP or to schedule an appointment call the Valleywise Health PrEP line at 602-344-8723 between 8am-5pm weekdays. For more information, please visit valleywisehealth.org/services.

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 was recognized by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation as an LGBTQ Healthcare Equality Leader in 2020. 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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