AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the world’s largest global AIDS organization, announced the expansion of its services delivering state-of-the-art HIV/AIDS medical care and pharmacy services to patients regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay at its newest site in Carolina. AHF currently cares for over 1.5 million patients in 45 countries around the globe.
AHF will also open a new AHF Pharmacy Access Center at the Carolina site, offering pharmacy services for the island’s HIV and AIDS patients. An existing full-service AHF Pharmacy will remain at the original Trujillo Alto site for several months until a full-service AHF Pharmacy opens to replace the Pharmacy Access Center in Carolina.
The new Carolina AHF facility will serve patients whose access to lifesaving HIV/AIDS care and services has suffered due to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as from residual fallout from the devastation of 2017’s Hurricane Maria. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Puerto Rico is one of the top ten states/territories with the highest number of cumulative AIDS cases, and HIV prevalence in the U.S.
“While Hurricane Maria and the COVID-19 pandemic have complicated the landscape for Puerto Ricans living with HIV/AIDS, patients were at risk long before Maria due to several factors including a lack of resources to effectively combat the epidemic as well as the island’s debt crisis,” said Silvana Erbstein, AHF regional director - Miami-Dade & Puerto Rico, who was involved in the continuity of care and services by AHF in Puerto Rico during and after the 2017 hurricane, ensuring that people with HIV could access medical services and receive their medicines on time."
“The need for such services remains significant, with Puerto Rico lan,ding at the top of HIV and/or AIDS incidence and rates nationally. However, our determination to deliver at this new site is even more so," added Dr. Milton Garland Cansobre, AHF medical director for Puerto Rico.
“We as an advocacy organization will be working hard to ensure easy access to quality HIV health care services, medications, free HIV testing and PrEP for people in Puerto Rico,” said Angel Macia, chair for the Latino Outreach and Understanding Division (LOUD) Puerto Rico Chapter. “Stigma about HIV has always been a barrier for patients here who often receive a diagnosis while in the hospital because their HIV infection has advanced or progressed to an AIDS diagnosis. Numbers show that there is a lack of resources for HIV testing and an urgent need to speak out about HIV treatment and prevention.”