Loma Linda University Health’s HIV clinic was awarded a $440,000 Ending the HIV Epidemic (EHE) grant by the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health earlier this year. The funds will be used to support the faculty’s mission in advancing HIV prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and outbreak response.
“Our team is passionate about supporting this community. The money will further assist our vision and will decrease the significant impact HIV has on our people,” Jennifer Veltman, chair of infectious diseases said.
The EHE initiative seeks to reduce the number of new HIV infections in the United States by 75% by 2025, then by at least 90% by 2030, for an estimated 250,000 total HIV infections averted. To achieve these goals, the initiative prioritized highly impacted counties by infusing additional resources and expertise — San Bernardino and Riverside counties are among the hardest hit by HIV in the nation and thus are prioritized in Phase I.
With this grant, Veltman says Loma Linda University Health’s HIV clinic plans on expanding the HIV program into a comprehensive program that adds a social worker to the current nursing and physician staff. The team will onboard a mental health specialist and case manager to help positive-testing individuals link to and follow up with HIV care.
“Social workers and mental health specialists are essential in reducing our county’s numbers,” Veltman says. “They will help complete confusing paperwork, arrange transportation to and from the clinic, help connect patients to community resources, and assist with patient education and emotional support. They ultimately will support patients’ adherence to care.”