January 30, 2008
Recently, the Whitney M. Young Jr. Health Services Center in Albany was awarded several grants to expand its HIV/AIDS education and testing services. The clinic, which has provided HIV/AIDS treatment since 1989, currently tests 1,200-2,400 people for HIV each year. Its goal is to reach 4,000 Capital Region residents in 2008.
To achieve this, Whitney Young will use $2.5 million from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to reach at-risk drug users and provide testing, education, and substance abuse treatment. CDC and the state Department of Health's AIDS Institute have provided $450,000 to offer rapid HIV tests to all patients who come to the center for any service.
"It's the kind of non-stigmatized testing that is becoming standard practice," said James Sinkoff, CEO of Whitney Young. "Hopefully, we are going to be able to identify patients and get them into services."
In addition, a $50,000 grant from Pfizer Inc. will allow Whitney Young to provide HIV-positive clients with education about self-managing the disease. And the clinic will distribute female condoms donated by the state AIDS Institute and Columbia University and educate women on how to use them.
Whitney Young is a pilot site for research to determine whether women are willing to use female condoms, which are more expensive and less well-known than male condoms. "This gives women, who up until now only had the option of saying 'no' if their partner was not willing to wear a condom, an alternative," said Steve Sawicki, director of HIV services at the clinic.