Dec. 8, 2015 | The UAMS 12th Street Health & Wellness Center’s made the global local on Dec. 1, observing World AIDS Day by providing 36 patients with free HIV screenings.
Most of those 36 people also sought a variety of other free health screenings, including screenings for blood pressure, glucose levels and blood pressure. The turnout was double that for the center’s first World AIDS Day screenings in 2014.
Since 1987, World AIDS Day has been dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection. According to the Arkansas Department of Health, about 5,000 Arkansans are living with HIV/AIDS but only about half actually are in care for the disease.
LINQ for Life and ARCare in cooperation with the center helped provide the HIV screenings using a mouth swab test. ARcare is a private, nonprofit organization that provides affordable care to meet the primary medical and dental care needs of the residents of several rural Arkansas counties. LINQ for Life is a Little Rock-based nonprofit with the mission of reducing new HIV infections, increasing access to care for people living with HIV, reducing HIV-related health disparities and achieving a coordinated national response to the HIV epidemic.
“Testing and treatment for HIV and AIDS have improved greatly since the disease first was discovered and identified as a public health problem, but many people still go without testing and counseling who should receive those services,” said Lanita White, Pharm. D., the center’s director. “We were eager to work with our partner organizations to make testing accessible to people who want and need it.”
The 12th Street Health & Wellness Center is a free clinic run by students under supervision of faculty. It provides students from the UAMS Colleges of Health Professions, Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy and the Graduate School an avenue to learn from each other in an interprofessional setting. The center provides information about healthy living, preventive care, consultations and screenings for chronic health conditions to residents of the Little Rock Promise Neighborhood and surrounding areas.
Eleven UAMS student and faculty volunteers as well as volunteers from other organizations helped with examinations and answering health questions from patients.
“We were very blessed to have partnerships with LINQ for Life and ARCare,” said Mary Bradley, the center’s student director of external affairs and a second-year College of Pharmacy student. “Both of them were ready and willing to help us accommodate the large number of patients. All we had to do was print out some extra papers. We were excited to help those people and to be able to bring HIV and AIDS awareness to the 12th Street community. This was our second year to do this, and we plan on building on that success in the future, especially with HIV public outreach.”
Bradley said the Mexican Consulate in Little Rock also assisted greatly in making the Hispanic community aware of the free health screenings the center was offering as part of its observance of World AIDS Day.