MAYWOOD, Ill. (June 16, 2014) - National HIV Testing Day will be Friday, June 27, and Loyola University Health System will celebrate as it does 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 ED and also at Loyola Burr Ridge Immediate Care,” said Beatrice Probst, MD, medical director of the Immediate Care centers at Loyola University Health System.
“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 was at the most infectious stage,” Probst said.
Funded by a research grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and in collaboration with the Illinois Department of Public Health, patients in Loyola’s ED and immediate care centers are offered free HIV tests.
Since January 2014 a total of 2,492 patients were offered the free HIV test at the Loyola emergency department in Maywood and Loyola’s Burr Ridge Immediate Care Center. “Of those, 944 patients agreed to be tested for HIV and with the expansion of our program locations, we anticipate high numbers for 2014,” Probst said. 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.
“Loyola’s multidisciplinary 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 more than 400 HIV patients annually,” said Paul O’Keefe, MD, medical director of the HIV Clinic, which 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.