The AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) celebrated the grand opening of its new health care center and pharmacy Wednesday.
The free clinic and specialty pharmacy will treat individuals in Southern Indiana and those in the small town of Austin who have been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C.
Austin experienced an outbreak of HIV over the past year in which 184 people out of its population of 4,200 contracted the virus with most of them likely to also have Hepatitis C. The HIV epidemic has been attributed to the use of intravenous drugs.
“As this new AHF facility in Austin shows, AHF is nimble: We are ready and willing to provide whatever assistance we may in emerging public health situations, such as [what] unfolded in Austin, and we will now work closely with our partners to identify and link HIV-positive individuals into medical care and lifesaving treatment,” AIDS Healthcare Foundation President Michael Weinstein said. “We are honored to be able to bring our years of experience in HIV/AIDS care around the country and around the globe to this critical new HIV treatment clinic and partnership in Austin.”
Upon learning about the outbreak, AHF offered free HIV testing through the deployment of one of its mobile testing vans to Austin. The new clinic is part of a partnership that AHF formed between health and government officials to deal with the rising number of HIV cases being reported in the area.
“The one organization that was there from the beginning and has stayed, is AHF,” William Cooke, founder and primary physician at Foundations Family Medicine, said. “Bringing the expertise of a global organization to Austin has been so valuable. I have been here for 10 years serving our community and this partnership has added great value in a time of crisis.”