CAMC program hits the road to take on Kanawha County’s HIV crisis

The Kanawha Valley’s HIV crisis has been well documented. During the past few years. An increase in homelessness, substance use disorders and the sharing of needles has led to the spread of HIV and other diseases.   

Over 500 people are enrolled in CAMC’s Ryan White Program which covers 19 counties in southern West Virginia.  

Due to transportation issues and other barriers to care, the program started providing outreach on a cargo van to areas in Charleston in 2020 followed by mobile clinic visits on CAMC’s mobile medical unit in 2023 to meet people where they are. The team includes a provider, nurse specialist, linkage to care coordinator, case manager, phlebotomist and pharmacist.  

This effort is paying off.

Care providers see 25-30 patients a week. These mobile visits featuring screenings and care have led to a reduction in hospital utilization, more patients receiving needed medications, lab work and a reduction in community HIV viral load with fewer new patients infected with HIV.

“The key is to develop relationships and trust,” said Christine Teague, PharmD, Program Director, CAMC Ryan White Program since 2002. “It’s been amazing. We feel like we’re making a difference.”  

Now, the CAMC Ryan White Program is getting its own mobile unit dedicated to furthering this outreach to multiple locations in Kanawha County and will expand services to all at-risk individuals to include addiction care and women’s medicine services.  

During mobile visits, patients see a nurse practitioner, may have lab work performed; receive personal hygiene and bleach kits; condoms; wound care and vaccines; 7 days of HIV, Hepatitis C and mental health medications; food and harm reduction counseling. 

The Ryan White Program is a national program that was implemented and developed in 1995 after Ryan White passed away. Ryan White was a hemophiliac who contracted HIV through a blood transfusion back in the mid-1980s. He was 11 years old at the time. The federal government enacted the Ryan White Care Act in his honor, and CAMC received their first federal RW grant award in 2002. 

This provides some of the funding used to care for people with HIV. CAMC makes up the difference in expenses in our area.  

“More people are living with HIV than ever,” Teague said. “With screenings, proper care and medications, people can live long, healthy lives. But we’ve got to be able to reach people who need care.” 

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