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New HIV Testing Initiative at University Hospital of Brooklyn
The Health and Education Alternatives for Teens (HEAT) Program, in conjunction with SUNY Downstate's Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease has launched an HIV testing Initiative at University Hospital of Brooklyn (UHB) and each of its satellite clinics. This one-year project is funded by Gilead Sciences, Inc. ($270,000) under their HIV Focus programming which seeks to routinize and expand HIV testing in hospital and community-based settings. This project has two components. One component, directed by Dr. Jeffrey Birnbaum, is a community-based testing piece in which HEAT provides expanded HIV testing to adolescents in community-based settings in Brooklyn, such as youth agencies and colleges, as well as in nontraditional locations such as at HEAT's House Ballroom events and safer sex education parties. The goal of this youth testing component is to increase booth mainstream HIV testing as well as targeting HIV testing to high-risk subpopulations of adolescents and young adults. The second component of this project, directed by Dr. Michael Augenbraun, is to increase routine testing in the Emergency Department, inpatient and outpatient clinics at Downstate. Damian Bird, MPH is the project coordinator. This project complements the HRSA/Ryan White Part A funding that the STAR Program receives to provide HIV testing in the Emergency Department for uninsured patients. The goal is to dramatically increase HIV testing in all parts of the hospital by using a provider model in which HIV testing is routinely offered and ordered as part of a clinical work-up by clinical providers and moves away from the traditional HIV test counselor model.
Gilead's HIV Focus Initiative is an attempt to implement NYS's routine HIV testing law which took effect in September 2010. Gilead is funding a handful of other hospitals and federally qualified health centers throughout New York City to expand routine testing and to engage newly identified HIV+ patients into medical care. UHB is the only hospital funded under the HIV Focus Initiative in Brooklyn. Furthermore, the combination of HEAT's community-based adolescent testing in conjunction with the hospital testing is one of only a few project models like this that Gilead funds nationwide.