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Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force Announces Opening of Medical Clinic Following Extensive Renovation of East Liberty Facility

Renovation also Includes Expanded Pharmacy and Food Pantry, and New HIV/STI Testing Center

Pittsburgh, PA – Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force (PATF), southwest Pennsylvania’s oldest and largest HIV/AIDS service organization, is pleased to announce the opening of a medical clinic, following the completion of a $1 million renovation of its East Liberty facility. Combined with PATF’s existing vital social services, the clinic ushers in PATF’s new model of comprehensive, coordinated and integrated care for HIV/AIDS clients. The extensive office renovation also includes an expanded pharmacy program, enlarged food pantry, new HIV/STI testing center and space to add onsite behavioral health care.

In addition to specialized HIV/AIDS medical care, the new clinical program will provide routine medical care for clients and client family members, as well as sexual health care for the community, regardless of HIV status. The clinic is led by Sarah McBeth, MD, MPH.

The opening of the medical clinic was celebrated at a ribbon cutting ceremony yesterday with a greeting from Governor Tom Wolf; remarks from PATF Board President Brian Balonick, Mayor Bill Peduto and Congressman Mike Doyle; and the reading of a quote from PATF Founding Director Kerry Stoner by current PATF CEO Sean DeYoung.

“There’s a lot of services that are needed today that wasn’t the case 20 or 30 years ago, and it’s good to see [PATF] keeping the pace with [these changes],” said Congressman Doyle. “It’s great we live in a community that works together and that cares about the people that live there.”

“What was so important about having groups like PATF [at the start of the epidemic], was not simply treating the disease, but treating the stigma,” said Mayor Peduto. “And now, this organization is still here and it serves a much larger community.… We’re able to recognize where it’s increasing—our African American community and our transgender community—and we’re able to get those people the help they need and the dignity and the respect they deserve.”

New Clinic Services
Though treatment for HIV has drastically improved since the introduction of antiretroviral medication in the 1990s, many new medical challenges have arisen as those with HIV age. Over a third of HIV-positive individuals that PATF serves are now 55 or older and many have lived with the infection for decades. HIV-positive individuals may have long-term health complications from the virus or from treatment and are at higher risk for cardiovascular disease, lung disease, certain cancers and liver disease, among other conditions. Not only will the clinic provide specialized HIV/AIDS medical care, but the physician will also be able to act as a primary care provider for clients and attend to a myriad of other medical needs.

“Recognizing the complexities of care for HIV-positive individuals, we identified the need for greater integration between social services and medical care. This integration is made seamless by bringing treatment and services together in the same location, leading to better health and quality of life outcomes for clients,” said Sean DeYoung, PATF CEO. “Our new services for HIV-negative community members provide new tools for our longstanding commitment to prevent the spread of the infection.”

By bringing medical treatment under the same roof as PATF’s social services—including medical case management, housing assistance, food pantry, legal assistance, emergency funds and transportation assistance—clients are better able to access the help they need. For clients who face many other challenges in addition to their HIV status, including poverty and stigma or discrimination due to their race, sexual orientation or gender identity, bringing these services together helps remove many of the barriers to managing HIV successfully. Our medical team and case managers will work together to help clients adhere to their medical regimen and maximize their health and quality of life. Not only does this approach lead to better outcomes for clients, but HIV-positive individuals who adhere to their medication and achieve an undetectable viral load are extremely unlikely to transmit the virus. For clients who choose to seek medical treatment elsewhere, PATF medical case managers will continue to work closely with other HIV medical service providers to ensure our clients stay in care.

The clinic will also provide services to those who are HIV-negative, including an onsite phlebotomist for confirmatory HIV and STI testing, as well as onsite treatment for sexually transmitted infections. A key feature of the new medical capabilities is a Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) Clinic. A powerful new tool in preventing the spread of HIV, PrEP entails taking the medication Truvada—long used to treat HIV—and is over 90 percent effective at preventing HIV infection. Though any doctor can prescribe PrEP, PATF’s medical team processes an in-depth knowledge and experience with the medication and will provide a stigma-free environment for patients to discuss HIV risk behaviors openly and honestly.

With the expansion of medical services, PATF has also expanded its pharmacy program. Though PATF has long operated a mail order pharmacy, delivering HIV and other medications to clients directly without co-pays, an onsite pharmacy specialist will now be available to speak with clients in person directly following medical appointments or when accessing other PATF services. Clients will also be able to pick up medication at PATF if they prefer this option over home delivery.

PATF plans to partner with a licensed mental health provider to offer onsite mental health therapy beginning in 2017.

Sarah McBeth, MD, MPH Hired as Medical Director
PATF has hired Sarah McBeth, MD, MPH to lead the clinic. Dr. McBeth, who brings experience in both internal and HIV-specialized medicine, was an emerging infectious disease laboratory training fellow with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention before obtaining her Medical Doctor and Master of Public Health degrees from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. She came to Pittsburgh for a residency in the global health track of UPMC’s internal medicine program. While in this program, she spent several months of her clinical training in Beira, Mozambique, a city severely affected by the HIV epidemic. Following her residency, she went on to infectious diseases fellowship training at UPMC. One of Dr. McBeth’s specialties is the treatment of hepatitis C among those with HIV co-infection, an issue affecting many HIV-positive individuals.

Facility Renovation Completed
To accommodate the expansion of services, PATF undertook a major renovation of its East Liberty office last fall, encompassing 6,700 square feet—or nearly half—of PATF’s 14,000 square foot space. In addition to the medical facility, the renovation includes an expanded food pantry, a renovated HIV and STI testing center, new office space for an onsite pharmacist, new behavioral health offices and renovated private meeting rooms. The renovation was designed by Strada Architecture, with PATF friends and supporters Nachum Golan and Steve Hough handling the bulk of the interior design.

Originally the Mansmann’s Department store, open from 1888 to 1978, PATF has occupied the East Liberty location since 2007, after relocating from Wilkinsburg.

About PATF
As the oldest and largest AIDS service organization in southwestern Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force (PATF) is dedicated to supporting and empowering all individuals living with HIV/AIDS, and to be relentless in preventing the spread of infection. Combining vital social services with a new medical clinic, PATF continues its three decade history of leadership in providing comprehensive support that improves the health and quality of life for those living with HIV/AIDS in Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Cambria, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Somerset, Washington, and Westmoreland counties. For information, please contact PATF at 412-345-0592, aptaschinski@patf.org or visit www.patf.org.

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Testing Hours:
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Mon-Tue, Thu - Fri: 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Wed: 9 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.

 

Food Pantry Hours*:
Sun: Noon-4:00 p.m.
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The food pantry is closed on Friday and Saturdays.

 

*Clients may use the food pantry once per month; Clients who are overdue for their 90-day updates will not be able to use the Food Pantry on Wednesday after 4 p.m., or on Sundays

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