Loyola Offers Free HIV Testing on National HIV/AIDS Aging and Awareness Day

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adults ages 55 and older accounted for 19 percent of the estimated 1.1 million people living with HIV infection in the United States in 2010. Sept. 18, 2014 is National HIV/AIDS Aging and Awareness Day. Funded by a CDC research grant in collaboration with the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), patients in the Loyola Emergency Department and select immediate care centers are offered a free HIV test.

“Between January 15 and August 15, 2014, Loyola approached 5,554 people about HIV screening in the Emergency Department in Maywood, and the Immediate Care Centers in Burr Ridge and Park Ridge,” says Jerry Goldstein, research coordinator, Loyola University Health System. “Loyola has screened 1,654 people and 578, or almost 35 percent have been between the ages of 50 and 64.”

Loyola offers free HIV screening to everyone between the ages of 18 and 64 who come to the Emergency Department or certain centers for care. Loyola expanded HIV testing to the Loyola Center for Health at Park Ridge on June 27, National HIV Testing Day.

“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 is at the most infectious stage,” says Beatrice Probst, MD, medical director of the immediate care centers at Loyola.

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.

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 multidisciplinary Loyola 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 over 400 HIV patients annually,” says Paul O’Keefe, MD, medical director, HIV clinic. The Loyola HIV Clinic 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. Preventive 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.

Source: Loyola University Health System