Washington University receives $2.5 million to provide HIV care to low income and underserved

Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has received a $2.5 million grant to provide medical care to low-income and underserved adults living with HIV. The five-year grant, from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, was awarded through the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Modernization Act.

The grant provides resources to address both early intervention services, including HIV testing, and the full range of medical care to patients with HIV/AIDS who are either uninsured or underinsured. In St. Louis, an estimated 4,700 people are living with HIV/AIDS. Up to 40 percent of them are unaware they have HIV, which disproportionately affects minorities and the poor.

“This funding is crucial because it supports both HIV testing to help prevent the disease from spreading further and provides care to people living with HIV who would otherwise have little or no access to treatment,” said Turner Overton, M.D., the grant’s recipient and an assistant professor of medicine. “Our goal is to identify people who need HIV care and make sure they get treatment early on and over the long-term.”

Washington University’s program will work with local AIDS service organizations and with St. Louis city and county health departments to encourage HIV testing and assist more patients in getting appropriate care, Overton said.

Washington University’s Infectious Diseases outpatient practice is the largest provider of medical care to people living with HIV/AIDS in the region. The School of Medicine also receives Ryan White funding to provide HIV care to children, youth (ages 13-24), and women through a family-centered approach.

The federal Ryan White Program is named after an Indiana teenager whose own struggle with AIDS and AIDS-related discrimination helped educate the nation. Ryan White died in 1990, the same year the program was enacted. The Ryan White Act also provides access to HIV drugs for low-income uninsured people, including protease inhibitors that are known to prolong the lives of HIV patients; mental health services; case management; and dental care.

For more information about the grant program, please call Tawnya Brown, the program director at (314) 747-3071. The program is located on the School of Medicine campus at 4570 Children’s Place and is easily accessible by both MetroLink and bus.

Washington University School of Medicine’s full-time and volunteer faculty physicians also are the medical staff of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals. The School of Medicine is one of the leading medical research, teaching and patient care institutions in the nation, currently ranked fourth in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Through its affiliations with Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals, the School of Medicine is linked to BJC HealthCare.