MAYWOOD, IL (June 26, 2015) According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), three in 10 new HIV infections come from people who have it and don’t know it. To raise awareness for the importance of this potentially deadly infectious disease, June 27 is National HIV Testing Day.
Funded by a CDC research grant, in collaboration with the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), and the Public Health Institute of Metropolitan Chicago, patients in the Loyola University Health System (LUHS) Emergency Department and select immediate care centers are routinely offered a free HIV test.
“Almost 5,500 patients were clinically tested for HIV at Loyola with 13 testing positive for the infectious disease,” says Jerry Goldstein, research coordinator, LUHS.
Loyola offers HIV screening to everyone between the ages of 18 and 64 who come to the Emergency Department or immediate care centers in Burr Ridge, River Forest, and Homer Glen. Primary care physicians also screen their patients for HIV.
Older Americans are more likely than younger Americans to be diagnosed with HIV infection late in the course of their disease, which may mean a later start to treatment, possibly causing more damage to their immune system. This can lead to poorer prognoses and shorter HIV-to-AIDS intervals.
“Offering an HIV screening is truly symbolic of the academic level standard of care for Loyola patients,” says Goldstein. 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. The Student Training in Approach to Research program at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine supported the initial pilot for free HIV testing at Loyola in 2011. Training and support for the grant is provided by the Midwest AIDS+Education Training Center. The program also receives a CDC Care and Prevention in the United States grant.
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.
Loyola University Health System is recognized internationally as a leader in infection control and prevention. Loyola is one of a few select hospitals who invest in universal screening of all inpatients for MRSA. Loyola was one of the first institutions to require all staff to have mandatory flu shots as a condition of employment. Loyola was the only academic hospital to participate in a national C. difficile study and performs the most accurate testing for bacteria. Loyola also actively screens emergency department patients for HIV/AIDS as part of an ongoing research study.