AIDS Walk

Baltimore OUTloud: Chase Brexton's POWER Project: Walk-in Help for HIV and STI's

Ken Ruby III

April 15, 2016

What does the concept of “power” mean to you?

For Chase Brexton Health Care, “power” means a lot of things: the power for someone to take control of their health and decide what HIV prevention methods are right for them; the power of a new, promising science to help decrease new HIV infections; and the power of the community to put a dent in new HIV infections.

Late last year, Chase Brexton Health Care revamped its HIV prevention efforts with the introduction of our POWER Project, which stands for “Protecting Ourselves With Every Resource.”  The tagline “protecting ourselves with every resource” nicely encompasses a full array of HIV prevention options and programs.

Regular, walk-in, free HIV testing continues to be a core service of the new POWER Project. Knowing one’s status is half the battle. Did you know that HIV/AIDS is the fourth leading cause of death in Baltimore, but at least one in six people who have HIV are not aware of it?

Without knowing your status, you cannot begin taking care of yourself, or taking steps to protect your partners.

At Chase Brexton, anyone who receives an HIV-positive result at testing is able to enter care the same day if desired.

To make HIV testing even more accessible, we recently added our Testing Together program, which allows groups of two or more people to be tested together. Partners learn about HIV transmission and each other’s status at the same time in a supportive environment.

Participants also mutually agree on a relationship “contract” and establish relationship rules, such as monogamy vs. open relationships, condom use within or outside the relationship, and how to inform the other partner if a rule has been broken.

The POWER Project also adds something new to the HIV prevention toolbox: PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis. Approved since 2012 for use by HIV-negative persons to help prevent HIV, the uptake on PrEP has been slower than expected. PrEP is a once daily medication which has shown to be between 92 and 99 percent effective. Also available is PEP, or post-exposure prophylaxis, a prevention method that involves starting anti-HIV medications within 72 hours after being potentially exposed to HIV to try to reduce the risk of becoming infected.

POWER Project navigators, or “The POWER Squad,” provide information about PrEP at community events and forums and individual encounters during HIV testing or on our POWER Hotline at 410-837-2050 ext. 8813. You may also see our official profile on popular dating sites!

Most recently, Chase Brexton Health Care launched the new POWER Clinic to provide HIV and sexually transmitted infection testing, as well as PrEP and PEP for HIV. Providers at the clinic have extensive experience caring for patients’ sexual health.

The POWER Clinic is part of Chase Brexton’s Infectious Diseases Center of Excellence, which offers testing, consultation and management services for HIV, Hepatitis C and a variety of sexually transmitted diseases and infections. The POWER Clinic has regular hours: Thursdays, by appointment, from 1 to 4 p.m., and Fridays, for walk-ins, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Finally, to engage with the community outside our four walls, we have acquired a mobile testing van which is expected to be on the road this May. Support our efforts at Baltimoreaidswalk.org!

The POWER Project is headquartered at Chase Brexton’s Mt. Vernon Center (1111 North Charles Street) in Baltimore, but offers services at all Chase Brexton Centers including Randallstown, Columbia, Glen Burnie, and Easton.

Patients may contact the POWER Project Hotline with questions at 410-837-2050 ext. 8813. Through this hotline, HIV-positive individuals may schedule quick access to medical, behavioral health, or dental care services. In addition, HIV-negative individuals may schedule appointments at the POWER clinic for STI/PrEP/PEP screening, or simply walk in during Friday walk-in hours.

The POWER Project is funded in part by a grant from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Read the full story here.

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