Oklahoma City, OK – Variety Care has received a $250,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to increase HIV screening and end the growing epidemic in Oklahoma. Variety Care will also expand the distribution of HIV-preventative medication in Oklahoma to persons at high risk of contracting HIV through the national Ready, Set, PrEP Program.
“We have an increase in HIV rates across the country, but Oklahoma is among the states with a higher incidence of new cases of HIV,” Chief Medical Officer Lydia Nightingale said. “Many of these cases are at the late stage or have developed AIDS at the time of diagnosis. This award will allow Variety Care to expand our testing and screening for HIV while improving health outcomes for our patients.”
Variety Care will expand the primary care services offered to patients by including HIV screenings in the exams and health checkups that patients receive annually. A new pilot program will also be launched to provide medication to individuals who are HIV-negative but at a higher risk for contracting the virus. Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is an HIV-preventative drug that works by taking one pill a day. PrEP will be available at no cost to patients who qualify.
According to recent studies, when combined with condom usage, PrEP can reduce the risk of getting HIV through sexual contact by up to 90 percent. Among individuals who inject drugs, daily PrEP use reduces the risk of getting HIV by at least 74 percent.
“We are committed to answering the national call to end the HIV epidemic,” Variety Care CEO Lou Carmichael said. “Integrated care has a profound positive effect on ending this epidemic by improving the prevention, detection, and treatment of HIV. Increased access to and use of PrEP has a multitude of benefits for the entire population and will ultimately help save lives.”
For more information on Variety Care, please visit varietycare.org. To schedule an appointment, please call (405) 632-6688.
About Variety Care, Inc.
Variety Care, Inc. is Oklahoma’s largest community health center with 13 health care facilities in central and western Oklahoma. In 2018, we provided comprehensive and coordinated medical, dental, behavioral health, vision, and social services to 124,733 individuals through 304,893 encounters. A United Way partner agency, Variety Care serves patients with insurance and without insurance and strives to make health care affordable and accessible for all patients. The Variety Care Foundation provides philanthropic support and community awareness for Variety Care and its efforts.