The Heart of Illinois HIV/AIDS Center has been awarded a three-year, $880,000 Ryan White grant to boost access to HIV testing and medical care for affected women and children in the region. HIHAC is one of 114 organizations to receive the federal Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) grants totaling $68 million.
“We are seeing more and more young people testing HIV-positive, reluctant to get into care and/or coming into care late in their disease stage,” said Pam Briggs, director HIHAC. “We can use the new grant to target this group and work diligently to get them into care quicker, reducing the risk of opportunistic infections, AIDS diagnoses and continued spread of the virus.”
HIHAC serves 15 counties in central Illinois, providing comprehensive care and services. It is a program under the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria Department of Internal Medicine. The funding through June 2015 will allow the organization to:
- Increase HIV testing to an additional 150 women and adolescents unaware of their status.
- Provide HIV primary care to 131 women and 44 young people ages 13-24.
- Continue perinatal services to an average of eight pregnant women.
- Expand HIHAC’s nursing team from four to five.
- Increase mental health and substance abuse services.
- Boost treatment adherence and specialty referrals for OB/GYN, mammography and other ancillary services as needed.
“Thanks to the HRSA grant we will be able to create a team to target adolescents and women throughout the region who may be infected with HIV and not aware of their diagnosis,” said Briggs. “This is great news for patients.”