AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s First AHF Blair Underwood Healthcare Center’ to Open in DC

By Aids Healthcare Foundation
09/23/2009
Washington D.C.

AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF),the US’largest non-profit HIV/AIDS healthcare provider, which provides medical care and/or services to more than 100,000 individuals in 21 countries worldwide, is honored to announce the September 24th grand opening of AHFBlair Underwood, will include a state-of-the-art, full-service HIV/AIDS treatment clinic as well as an on-site AHF Pharmacy. The facility will be known as the AHF Blair Underwood Clinic.
Underwood, a popular and award-winning Hollywood actor has also been a longtime AIDS advocate, whose activism and advocacy on HIV/AIDS blossomed after he visited the hard hit country of South Africa many years ago. He is a founding member of the advocacy group, ‘Artists for a New South Africa,’ and has previously been featured in several AHF media campaigns, most notably AHF’s highly-effective “Man Up” HIV testing media campaign. Underwood will officially dedicate and tour AHF’s newest venture in the fight against AIDS—the state-of-the-art AIDS healthcare center and pharmacy serving Washington, DC named in his honor in a ribbon-cutting and dedication ceremony this Thursday, September 24th at 10am. The AHF Blair Underwood Healthcare Center is located in medical building at 2141 K Street, NW, Suite 606 (between 21st and 22nd), Washington, DC.

“I am delighted to announce the launch of this new AHF AIDS care facility named in honor of Blair Underwood,” said Michael Weinstein, AHF President. “This healthcare center—AHF’s first in the District of Columbia—offers a tremendous opportunity to provide quality HIV/AIDS care and significant outreach to some underserved populations in Washington, and I thank Blair for lending his name and joining us in our newest effort in the fight against AIDS here in the US.”

“I have worked closely with AHF for a while now and know that they really deliver on their commitment to provide HIV care at its best,” said Blair Underwood. “I am honored to have this facility share my name, and excited about the opportunity for AHF to provide compassionate, accessible HIV/AIDS care and services to people who may have had difficulty accessing services. Many people living with HIV and AIDS in Washington need improved access to such life-saving care—it is my hope that this new clinic will help address this growing need.”

“By locating our clinic inside the District and not far from George Washington University Hospital, where we will admit some of those HIV/AIDS patients who may need hospital care, our AHF Blair Underwood Clinic will be in a unique position to better serve a high-risk, largely minority population,” said Roxanne Cox-Iyamu, MD, Medical Director for the AHF Blair Underwood Clinic. “I thank Blair for joining us in our inaugural treatment facility in Washington.”

“Since the initial stages of the epidemic, the AIDS virus has disproportionately impacted African Americans more than any other ethnic group, and this fact certainly holds true in Washington,” said Cynthia Davis, MPH, Assistant Professor, and HIV Testing Program Director Drew University HIV/Education and outreach Project, Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science in Los Angeles, California and a Board member of AHF. “On behalf of the entire AHF Board of Directors, we are honored to have the privilege to now help bring life-saving care and services to communities in need, particularly communities of color here in the District.”

Background on AHF Healthcare Centers
AHF Healthcare Centers provide advanced medical care designed specifically for HIV-positive clients. AHF healthcare providers are knowledgeable of up-to-the-minute developments in HIV medical care. In addition, AHF Healthcare Centers are often part of the research teams testing new medications to fight HIV. AHF Healthcare Centers provide clients with access to the additional specialists, medications and services they need to be as healthy as possible.

AHF has previously named several of its treatment clinics in partnership with and honor of HIV-positive basketball legend Magic Johnson. Those AHF Magic Johnson Healthcare Centers include sites in the West Adams District of Los Angeles; in Oakland and San Francisco; and in Miami and Jacksonville, Florida.


Background on AHF HIV Testing

“In conjunction with the Blair Underwood Clinic opening, AHF has also permanently relocated one of our popular Magic Johnson Mobile Testing Units from Los Angeles to Washington, DC in order to provide free, easy-to-access rapid HIV testing in various underserved neighborhoods throughout the nation’s capital,” said Whitney Engeran-Cordova, Director of AHF’s Public Health Division. “The unit features state-of-the-art, one-stop HIV testing facilities offering 20 minute rapid testing. Following a very successful 14 city cross-country testing tour through many hard-hit southern states earlier this summer, this Magic Johnson Mobile Testing Unit is now staying in Washington and will be geared up for deployment. The mobile unit is parked right outside this building during our clinic dedication this morning in order that that people may see another innovative AHF approach to testing, services and outreach.”

Barbara Chinn, Longtime Force in the DC HIV/AIDS Community, Honored During Clinic Dedication
During the clinic dedication ceremony, AIDS Healthcare Foundation President Michael Weinstein and Blair Underwood will also present an award of recognition to Barbara Chinn, a longtime and tireless force in the battle against HIV/AIDS in Washington. Chinn, who has received numerous distinguished service and community awards over the years, is being recognized for over 21 years of leadership and experience in HIV/AIDS program management in the District of Columbia, most notably, during her affiliation with the Whitman-Walker Clinic, where Chinn ensured that the diverse populations served—LGBT, African Americans, Caucasians, and others received high quality, competent care or services delivered in a culturally sensitive manner, addressing their particular needs. At Whitman-Walker, Chinn ensured the integration of all services—medical, dental, HIV testing and counseling, legal and behavioral health—to provide a comprehensive, holistic approach to client care. Chinn also developed the first licensed Community Residential Facility (CRF) for people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWAs) in the District of Columbia.

HIV/AIDS in the District of Columbia

  • A September 2009 Kaiser Family Foundation Fact Sheet, ‘The HIV/AIDS Epidemic in the United States’ notes that the District of Columbia currently has the highest AIDS case rate in the nation: 148.1 cases per 100,000 residents. The fact sheet also noted that, “AIDS case rates per 100,000 provide a different measure of the epidemic’s impact, since they reflect the concentration of cases after accounting for differences in population size across states.”
  • Another Kaiser Family Foundation study released in June 2009 found that Black women in Washington, D.C., have far higher rates of AIDS and other chronic health conditions such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease than women of other races, and that the incidence of AIDS cases for black women is 176 per 100,000residents, higher than that of any other group of women in the district.
  • In March 2009, a report released by the District of Columbia’s HIV/AIDS Administration noted that, “At least 3% of District of Columbia residents are living with HIV/AIDS, greater than the 1% level that constitutes a ‘generalized and severe’ epidemic,” and that between one-third and one-half of residents may be unaware of their infection.
  • According to a March 15 2009 Washington Post articleby reporters Jose Antonio Vargas and Darryl Fears on the District study,
    • more than 4% of black district residents are living with HIV, as are
    • 2% of Hispanics, and
    • 1.4% of whites.

Of those living in the city who are HIV-positive, about

    • 76% are black,
    • 70% are men, and
    • 70% are age 40 or older.

The report found that black men in the city have the largest HIV burden, with a prevalence of about 7%. In addition, about 3% of black women in the district are HIV-positive, partly because of an increase in heterosexual transmission in the city.

Also according to the report,

    • men having sex with men (MSM) remains the leading cause of HIV transmission in the district, followed by
    • heterosexual transmission and
    • injection drug use.
  • Among blacks, heterosexual sex was the leading cause of HIV transmission, accounting for 33% of cases.
  • MSM accounted for the most HIV cases among white residents at 78% and also among Hispanics at 49%.
  • The study also found that black women account for more than one-quarter of the district’s HIV cases and that 58% contracted the disease through heterosexual contact.
  • About 25% of black women contracted HIV through injection drug use, the study said.

About 2,984 district residents per every 100,000 people older than age 12—or about 15,120 people total—are HIV-positive. This represents a 22% increase in HIV/AIDS cases from the end of 2006, when the district reported 12,438 HIV cases. The report also cautioned that “the true number of residents” living with HIV could be higher than official data indicate.

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