New HIV/AIDS clinic aims to change disease’s stigma - Valley Morning Star : Local News

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New HIV/AIDS clinic aims to change disease’s stigma

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Posted: Sunday, January 5, 2014 9:52 pm

HARLINGEN — A new state-of-the-art medical facility has opened in Harlingen for persons living with HIV/AIDS.

The Westbrook Clinic, at 2306 Camelot Plaza, will now provide comprehensive and multidisciplinary care to patients, the Valley AIDS Council said.

The Valley AIDS Council says this clinic is the only comprehensive HIV/AIDS care facility in South Texas, a region where more than 2,000 people are living with this disease.

“We’re here to help our patients. If we can bring it out into the light, we can conquer it,” said Dean Hall, executive director of the Valley AIDS Council.

“If we can control this, we can beat this in the Rio Grande Valley,” said Hall.

The clinic provides a one stop location with specialized HIV medical care for adults, children, teens and families.

The clinic is fitted with 15 exam rooms, a large waiting area, meeting rooms, offices, a lab and pharmacy.

Services include counseling and preventive care for HIV infected patients; provision of antiretroviral therapy and side effect management for patients who require treatment.

The clinic also offers comprehensive care for HIV related conditions, including opportunistic infections, cancers and viral hepatitis co-infection.

Expanded services will also include HIV specialized dental care for patients living with HIV.

“Twenty-six years ago this clinic was created because local doctors would not treat our patients, now we are teaching the next generation of medical providers to care for people living with HIV,” Dr. Ruben D. Martinez, medical director of the Westbrook Clinic, said of the Westbrook Clinic in Corpus Christi.

The Harlingen clinic is an expanded version of the Corpus Christi clinic.

Martinez notes that the patients who take the steps to manage their disease with medication are exceedingly effective in living long and healthy lives.

Without treatment it is 100 percent fatal, but with medication, it is a controllable disease, he said.

Another task the clinic takes on is working to eliminate the stigma of HIV and instead educate the community.

Because of the stigma, misinformation, bias and lack of education, HIV becomes harder to control, said Martinez.

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