New state-of-the-art facilities aim to serve those whose access to HIV/AIDS care and services still suffer from fallout from 2017’s Hurricane Maria as well as the COVID-19 pandemic
AHF’s newest site includes an AHF Healthcare Center in Carolina (relocating from Trujillo Alto in San Juan) and an AHF Pharmacy Access Center, providing HIV/AIDS healthcare and pharmacy services as well as HIV testing and treatment and STD/STI treatment and prevention
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO (March 8, 2021) AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the world’s largest global AIDS organization, is proud to announce 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, Puerto Rico. AHF currently cares for over 1.5 million patients in 45 countries around the globe.
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 deeply involved 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. “I am pleased that AHF is expanding our footprint to better meet the medical and pharmacy needs of the people of Puerto Rico.”
“I am excited to continue as part of AHF’s extended network of cutting-edge medical care providers across the country and around the globe as we turn a chapter to now care for and serve patients at our new health care center and pharmacy access center in Carolina,” said Dr. Milton Garland Cansobre, AHF medical director for Puerto Rico “The need for such services remains significant, with Puerto Rico landing 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.”
Maria’s Impact on Puerto Ricans Living with HIV or AIDS
According to a Washington Blade news article from September 21, 2020, “A study conducted by the University of Puerto Rico’s Medical Sciences Campus and Columbia University notes Puerto Ricans living with HIV/AIDS were one of the groups that (Hurricane) Maria impacted the most.”
The study (via the Blade’s reporting) also noted:
- … viral suppression decreased from 71 percent to 65 percent in the entire sample as a result of Maria’s impact. Access to medical assistance and health services for these patients fell by more than 2 percent.
- A total of 48,506 people have been diagnosed with HIV in Puerto Rico from Jan. 1, 1981, to June 30, 2017. The coronavirus pandemic has raised the figure to 50,163 cases, according to data from the University of Puerto Rico’s Medical Sciences Campus’ Integrated Clinical Trials Unit.
- The slow pace of recovery from Maria, combined with the coronavirus pandemic, has left the outlook for this population much more complex.
“AHF’s Carolina Healthcare Center will serve as a local resource in Puerto Rico to address not only the need for HIV/AIDS treatment, but also for the delivery of pharmacy services as well as STI/STD treatment and prevention efforts,” said Michael Kahane, AHF Southern Bureau Chief, who, in the immediate aftermath of Maria coordinated and led an AHF effort chartering a cargo plane from Miami to bring 50 electric generators to the island to help restore power to the Puerto Rico Department of Health’s facilities. “It’s an important site in AHF’s universe for a hard-hit population that we hope to do right by.”
“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.”
The AHF Healthcare Center-Carolina and AHF Pharmacy Access Center are located in the Paseo del Prado Shopping Center, PR 3, Carolina 00987 Tel: (787) 300-3188 The hours of operation for both facilities are Mondays 9:00 am to 6:00 pm; Tuesdays through Fridays, 7:00 am to 4;00 pm; and closed on both Saturdays and Sundays.
AHF currently operates 68 other AHF Healthcare Centers in 15 states across the U.S. as well as one in the District of Columbia and the current San Juan clinic. Each Healthcare Center provides medical programs tailored to the specific needs of asymptomatic and symptomatic HIV/AIDS individuals from qualified medical and support professionals. AHF now also operates 60 AHF Pharmacy sites in 14 states, Washington, DC and in San Juan, PR.
For a Spanish language version of this press release, click here: