San Antonio AIDS Foundation Opens Eastside Outpatient Clinic
The San Antonio AIDS Foundation officially opened its first HIV outpatient clinic on the eastside of San Antonio, inside the foundation’s headquarters on Grayson Street.
SAAF’s Care Clinic has been operating for 11 months before officially opening Friday. It provides clinical and mental health services and a full pharmacy.
“Our new clinic is how we can continue to adapt to the changing realities to this disease and to reach people who need our help the most,” said Cynthia Nelson, CEO of the AIDS foundation.
The clinic features three exam rooms and a fully functioning pharmacy.
“And that pharmacy is not just for people living with HIV. You can pop into pharmacy (and get) Tylenol, acetaminophen for your headache,” the clinic’s medical director Dr. Wari Allison said.
Earlier this year, the SAAF closed its hospice care wing, Nelson said, because fewer people are dying from AIDS-related causes. Instead, the foundation opted to assist with housing and created the clinic.
Before this clinic started operating, Nelson said some patients were waiting as long as 22 days after testing positive for HIV before being able to see a doctor at other clinics. With the new clinic, there’s a shorter wait.
“They could get their blood drawn and it’s sent to be genotyped and they can get (an) appointment the next week,” Nelson said.
The foundation found 47 people last year who tested positive for HIV,
“Of the 47 patients they’re diagnosed … 45 were linked into care, because that’s where we see a big drop off in San Antonio is between people knowing they have HIV and getting into care so it sounds like they have a good track record and that’s exciting,” said Junda Woo, medical director of San Antonio MetroHealth.
In Bexar County, there are about 5,400 people with HIV, said data from 2014. About 60 percent of those patients are Hispanic and 85 percent are men. Woo said having more outpatient clinics available in different parts of town makes access to treatment easier.
“Transportation can be a big barrier for people. So whenever we can put clinics closer to where people live — if there aren’t any on the eastside, having one on the eastside — makes a big difference,” she said.
Running the clinic will cost about $545,000 annually. About $250,000 of that will be covered by the Ryan White Foundation. The Care Clinic is currently open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The clinic accepts Medicare, Medicaid and other major insurance. For more information, visit the clinic's website.
CORRECTION: The Care Clinic has corrected information given to TPR about its hours of operation. The story has been updated.