PHOENIX (May 15, 2023) – An estimated one in seven people living with HIV in the U.S. do not know they are HIV positive according to Greater Than HIV. Modern treatments for HIV have converted this condition to be a manageable disease, often undetectable, but the first step is overcoming fears of being tested for HIV. In response, for National HIV Testing Day this June 27, Spectrum Medical Care Center is teaming up with the Walgreens at 3402 N. Central Ave. (Central Ave. and Osborn Rd. in Phoenix) to provide free HIV testing, along with prevention and treatment information from 10 a.m.- 7 p.m.
Spectrum Medical Care Center is one of three community organizations across the Valley which were selected by Walgreens as part of a national effort to end HIV by delivering free HIV testing and information through partnerships with health departments and community organizations across the country.
“We applaud Walgreens for organizing this effort on National HIV Testing Day because as a household name, their support helps normalize testing, which in turn helps reduce stigma surrounding HIV,” said Dr. Thanes Vanig, internationally recognized expert in HIV medicine, and the founder and current Chief Medical Officer of Spectrum Medical Care Center, in practice since 1998. “The effort reflects my life’s mission of ending the HIV epidemic and echoes Spectrum Medical Care Center’s important work. Knowing one’s status is the first step towards proper treatment and leads to an understanding that a positive test is not a death sentence.”
As leading experts in HIV treatment and care, Spectrum Medical’s team of professionals are committed to a whole person approach to healthcare services including primary care, preventative care, HIV care, PrEP, PEP and STI testing. The medical professionals at Spectrum Medical are staffed with HIV specialists who have dedicated their careers to recognizing HIV symptoms, addressing the complications, and developing care plans for patients.
“I think the general public has a misconception that HIV is no longer an issue because we don’t talk about it that much, not like we did in the ‘80s and ‘90s,” said Vanig. “But HIV is still very prevalent, especially in the MSM community. So we need to do a better job collectively educating the general public about modern treatments, including PrEP, a medication that is over 99% effective in preventing HIV.”
Testing at the Central Phoenix Walgreens location is a much needed community service. According to AIDSVu, there’s a high prevalence of HIV in this area, and the data from this zip code points to the need for more testing, along with prevention and treatment education. In the 85012 zip code specifically, 2,588 of every 100,000 people are living with HIV, according to data from AIDSVu.
2020 AIDSVu data also reveals that there were 12,139 people living with HIV in Phoenix and in the same year, 337 people were newly diagnosed with HIV.
Spectrum Medical Care Center projects they will give 900 HIV tests this year at its medical facility and through community outreach events. Their U.B.U. Crew also engages with hundreds of people each month to provide education on the importance of getting tested and taking control of one’s sexual health.
Regardless of the result of their HIV test, Spectrum Medical Care Center provides all patients with the tools needed to ensure they are at optimal health and guides patients along their wellness journey.
Following a positive HIV test, Spectrum Medical’s team of medical professionals work to set up a treatment plan, which is individualized for each patient based on their unique needs and symptoms. Treatment may consist of daily antiretroviral therapy (ART), which includes a combination of HIV medicines known as an HIV regimen.
“The personalized treatment we deliver at Spectrum Medical Care Center is designed to control the infection, manage symptoms, and prevent the infection from developing into AIDS,” said Vanig. “Antiretrovirals cannot cure HIV, but these medications can help people with HIV live longer, healthier lives, while reducing the likelihood of spreading HIV.”