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APLA Health & Wellness Launches New PrEP Program

LOS ANGELES, Nov. 13, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- APLA Health & Wellness is proud to announce the launch of a groundbreaking Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) program at the Gleicher / Chen Health Center in Baldwin Hills. The Pendleton / Goldman PrEP program begins serving patients November 17, and will focus on HIV-negative gay and bisexual men, as well as transgender women—a population that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says is statistically at higher risk for HIV.



The new PrEP program was developed in part thanks to generous support from Brian Pendleton and Chad Goldman and is an integral component of medical services the health center provides. It educates eligible HIV-negative patients about and offers them access to Truvada—currently the only drug approved for use as PrEP—which is highly effective in preventing sexual transmission of HIV. The program's services include:

  • Assistance with health plan enrollment, as well as counseling regarding payment options for those who are uninsured
  • Medical screening, including blood work and HIV testing
  • Prescriptions and refills as needed, if eligible
  • Case management and counseling
  • Regularly scheduled follow-up visits that include lab work, as well as discussions about drug adherence and patients' overall sexual health

Most private insurance plans, as well as Medicare and Medi-Cal, cover PrEP. Truvada manufacturer Gilead Sciences, based in Foster City, CA, also provides the drug through patient assistance programs for the uninsured.

Even with advances in access to PrEP, challenges remain in education, counseling, and management of the medication, which is what GCHC's new program tackles. "Medical providers may be knowledgeable about PrEP because of recommendations and guidelines put out by the CDC," says Clinical Advisor Raphael Landovitz, MD, MSc, "but many gay and bisexual men and transgender women may not have insurance, don't know enough about PrEP or how to get it, or may not feel comfortable discussing their sexual practices with their doctors. There are also doctors who don't know enough about PrEP to advise patients or aren't comfortable prescribing Truvada. And some patients have been reacted to badly by their providers once they've asked for it. None of this will happen through our program."

HIV Specialist Christian Takayama, MD, and APLA Health & Wellness Medical Director Gifty-Maria Ntim, MD, MPH, are heading up the PrEP program at the Gleicher / Chen Health Center in conjunction with Landovitz, an infectious disease and HIV clinician whose primary research is in HIV prevention, particularly the use of PrEP, Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP), and microbicides.

"We see PrEP as an important tool in the overall HIV prevention tool kit," says Vallerie D. Wagner, chief operating officer of APLA Health & Wellness. "We also know people have a lot of questions and need information. That's exactly why we're here and why we've designed the program with them in mind."

The 6,700-square-foot Gleicher / Chen Health Center provides free and low-cost services to residents of Baldwin Hills and many surrounding L.A. neighborhoods, with a specific focus on low-income LGBT individuals. The space includes five exam rooms, four dental operatories with digital X-ray capabilities, laboratory, treatment room, patient vitals station, and three counseling rooms.

The Gleicher / Chen Health Center is located at 3743 S. La Brea Ave. in the Baldwin Hills Shopping Center and is open Monday-Saturday. For additional information, or to schedule an appointment, please call 323.329.9900 or visit aplahw.org.

This project is funded in part by L.A. Care Health Plan and will benefit low-income and uninsured residents of Los Angeles County.

APLA Health & Wellness (APLAHW) provides primary medical and oral health care, behavioral health services, HIV testing, PrEP counseling and management of eligible clients, STD screening/treatment, and health education and HIV-prevention services, with a specific focus on low-income gay and bisexual men of color and transgender individuals living in Los Angeles County. APLAHW is a federally qualified health center that includes: the Gleicher / Chen Health Center in South Los Angeles; the Wilshire Dental Clinic downtown; Behavioral Health Services at the David Geffen Center in Mid-City; and a mobile dental facility. The S. Mark Taper Foundation Dental Clinic in South Los Angeles is also part of APLAHW. APLAHW serves more than 8,000 people each year. For more information, please visit aplahw.org.

A photo accompanying this release is available at: http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=29065

CONTACT: Mikel Wadewitz Director, Communications 213.201.1521 mwadewitz@apla.org

Source: AIDS Project Los Angeles