San Ysidro Health.
San Ysidro Health is committed to caring for people and communities often overlooked or marginalized. One such community is San Diego’s vibrant LGBTQ community and the health issues affecting it.
HIV/AIDS is one such health issue. While treatment and medications have improved, the incidence is still high among young men of color. San Ysidro Health has developed a nationally recognized HIV Department, with staff and programs recently awarded the 2018 Unidos U.S. LGBTQ Champion Award.
One of the programs that has proven most effective for prevention and early detection of HIV /Hepatitis C is a Mobile Testing Unit that San Ysidro Health sends out into communities—reaching people where they live and work in order to make HIV/Hep C testing and prevention accessible. The reason for this is people of color and those in lower socio-economic areas of the community often do not have access to a clinic or doctor’s office for testing and prevention.
Recently it was discovered that the mobile HIV/AIDS testing Unit could not be repaired and returned to duty but must be replaced. This adds challenges to an already difficult conversation. If the staff can’t meet people where they are, they must find new ways to bring people into the clinics for testing and prevention services such as PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis). This is important because 1 in 10 people infected with HIV in the county are not aware, according to officials, which means they could infect others and not seek treatment to stay healthy. Early detection and treatment saves lives, and the San Ysidro Health Mobile Testing Unit assures access to testing, referrals for treatment and prevention. In other words, the Unit helps save lives. This community-based testing program has ensured thousands of people at risk, who might not have access to a doctor or clinic, get the information they need to make informed decisions.
Recently, San Ysidro Health had a patient that was healthy and active and didn’t think of himself as someone at risk to contract HIV. That all changed when his friends encouraged him to step into the Unit for a very simple mouth swab test. His life changed. He found out he tested positive – he was immediately referred to our HIV staff for services, medication, case management, counseling, support groups such as art and nutrition and follow up treatment plans. Today he has no measurable HIV viral load and is living a happy and healthy life.
You can make a difference by supporting San Ysidro Health and their goal of funding a new Mobile Testing Unit by making a gift today. www.syhealth.org/donate or call Candy Cuevas for more information at (619) 205-6326.