ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — It's health empowerment through education: Metro Inclusive Health was founded 30 years ago with a sole emphasis on fighting the spread of HIV.
"It was back in the 90s when we were helping folks get access to care who were living with HIV," Chief Marketing & Experience Officer Brian Bailey said. "We had one service, which was HIV case management."
Metro now has four locations, welcome centers and mobile units. Access to testing for HIV and care remains a core priority.
"Today treatment is very, very efficient — it's very, very effective. It's very, very simplified and someone who is diagnosed with HIV can receive treatment immediately," Bailey said. He says the vast majority of people will live a long, normal and healthy life with diagnosis and treatment at the right time.
"Gay males still remain at the highest risk level," Bailey said. But knowing your status is something everyone should be aware of.
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Metro helps patients understand their risk level and makes testing easy. They say results are turned around in just minutes.
"You walk in the door, do your paperwork, you get a little prick and before you're even ready to put your hat back on, you'll know what your result is," Baily said.
Based on the results, your treatment and prevention steps are mapped out and the next test is planned. Bailey says if you're sexually active, the recommendation is at least every 90 days. A PREP prescription is also available to help prevent the spread.
"Now with PREP, which stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis. It's a daily pill. It's 99% effective in preventing HIV," said Bailey, "...we're really proud of it, we actually have a program called PREP in 30, so we can actually get somebody in the door and out the door with PREP prescription in 30 minutes."
Prevention and treatments are now covered by most insurances, but Metro also has resources available to those who aren't covered.
To see HIV testing locations near you — with free home testing kits available, as well — visit KnowYourHIVStatus.com.
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