$360,000 boost for HIV/AIDS patients in Pima County

The University of Arizona has been awarded $360,000 from the federal Ryan White CARE Act to expand its patient care services for HIV/AIDS patients in Pima County. Ryan White Early Intervention Services Clinics now are held at the University of Arizona Health Sciences Center and at Kino Hospital.

While Tucson has several excellent clinical programs for HIV/AIDS patients, additional services are important because incidence of the disease continues to rise in Pima County and more choices are needed for patients, clinic officials explain.

Signed into law in 1990, the Ryan White CARE (Comprehensive AIDS Resource Emergency) Act is a federal program to improve the quality and availability of care for people with HIV/AIDS and their families. The program is administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Kino Hospital has operated a Ryan White-funded program for seven years. Under this new grant, the University of Arizona has taken over administration of the Kino program, and at the same time, has expanded clinical services for HIV/AIDS patients to the health sciences center.

Five physicians staff the program at the UA, with three doctors based at Kino. A nurse practitioner is covering both facilities. The clinics also soon will feature a state-of-the-art informatics system for patient management. Dr. Leonard Ditmanson is medical director of the program, as well as president of the Pima County Medical Society. Carol Schneiderman will remain as the pharmacist and Robert Castrillo the patient advocate. Julie Lepa, a nurse practitioner, recently joined the program, and a nurse coordinator soon will be hired.

The UA Ryan White Early Intervention Services Clinics provide affordable, quality, multi-disciplinary care (addressing psycho-social, as well as the medical needs) for people living with HIV/AIDS in Pima County. In addition to stressing culturally sensitive care, the clinics provide HIV/AIDS patients access to a full range of medical, surgical and psychiatric treatment and support for men, women and children. Obstetrical and perinatal care also is available. Patients requiring urgent or emergency care are seen on a walk-in basis in the clinics, or, if necessary, referred to the University Medical Center or Kino Emergency Departments. The UA College of Medicine's Section of Infectious Diseases has physicians available on a 24-hour basis for urgent and emergent consultations.

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