Approximately 1.1 million people are living with HIV in the United States and one in seven are unaware they live with the infection, according to HIV.gov, but a new clinic in Kalamazoo wants to help minimize the spread in the area.
After years of planning the CARES Positive Living Clinic, a collaboration between Community AIDS Resource and Education Services (CARES) of Southwest Michigan and Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine, opened in Kalamazoo on Mon., Oct. 7, 2019, at the CARES office, 629 Pioneer St., lower level.
"It's a clinic specifically for people living with HIV to get everything they need at once," said CARES Chief Executive Officer Kelly Doyle. "We have WMed who has their expertise providing staff and doctor supervision then you have cares who works with people who have HIV on that social support level."
Dr. Lisa Graves said it's part of Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine's vision to collaborate with community members to deliver not only medical education but research and service.
"For some individuals living with HIV there were challenges with getting access to the services of managing their HIV. For others it was getting accessibility to manage their other primary care needs," said Graves.
Doyle and Graves said the clinic is an effort to integrate both those services and fill gaps in our community.
"So they can do it all at once so they don't have to do multiple appointments because of the stigma of HIV. They don't want to have to go to multiple places just to one place," said Doyle.
Meeting cares mission to maximize the quality of life for those affected by the disease and to also minimize transmission.
"If they're undetectable then they can not transmit the disease to anybody else. If we get everybody to undetectable we could end that epidemic. It's about access to healthcare and making sure we're removing all those barriers and making sure people that have HIV have that access," said Doyle.
The clinic also does sexually transmitted disease testing and specializes in LGBTQ healthcare.