The “human immunodeficiency virus”, commonly referred to as HIV, can lead to “acquired immunodeficiency syndrome”, or AIDS. HIV is a virus that the human body can’t get rid of. That means that once you have HIV, you have it for life. The virus has existed in the United States since at least the mid- to late 1970s. Although there is currently no cure for HIV, there are effective treatment plans available to control it. Treatment for HIV is often called “antiretroviral therapy” or ART. ART can dramatically prolong the lives of many people infected with HIV and lower their chances of infecting others. Before the introduction of ART in the mid-1900s, people with HIV could progress to AIDS in just a few years. Today, however, someone diagnosed with HIV and treated before the disease is far advanced can have a nearly normal life expectancy. If left untreated, HIV is almost universally fatal because it eventually overwhelms the immune system, resulting in AIDS. HIV treatment helps people at all stages of the disease, and treatment can slow or prevent progression from one stage to the next.
Valley-Wide Health Systems, Inc. has been working hard to increase HIV awareness to our patients and provide them with the education they need. Our goal is to help promote HIV prevention and infection to slow the progression of those who are diagnosed with HIV. We also offer free confidential HIV screening to our established patients, aged 15 to 64 years of age, who do not know their HIV status, or who are sexually active and have not had an HIV test in the last 12 months. The only way to know if you are infected with HIV is to be tested. Many people who are infected with HIV do not have any symptoms at all for 10 years or more. It is important that people get tested for HIV and know if they are infected early so that medical care and treatment have the greatest effect.
Providers are not alone in educating patients about HIV; Nursing also provides an essential role in this area of practice. The Valley-Wide Nursing staff has made a commitment to providing more patient education programs, tools, and materials available to our patients and their families! In July they participated in a contest and created patient education display boards to present in their clinic settings to help promote HIV awareness and to address the Free Confidential HIV Testing program. Out of all the clinics that participated, we had three prize winners!
1st Place – Rocky Ford Clinic (Pizza Party Luncheon)
2nd Place – Fremont Family Medical Center (Banana Splits)
3rd Place – La Junta Clinic (Ice Cream Floats)
*Those clinics who did not place in the top three received Participation and Appreciation Gift Baskets.