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Children's Hospital in LA Helps Low Income Teens at Risk For HIV

Low Income Teens

Up to 90 percent of HIV patients who come to Children's Hospital in Los Angeles for treatment are minorities. Although the number of AIDS deaths has gone from 2,000 to 400 since the 1980's, doctors are concerned because the teens who come to them for treatment make up 20 or 25 percent of the total population in Los Angeles.

Who is at risk

Children's Hospital is known for their work to fight HIV and AIDS throughout Southern California. What concerns them are the number of at-risk teens they are not able to treat because of social barriers. Many of them are from low-income neighborhoods who need help but lack access to hospitals, have no health care and little or no income. The hospital offers free care to at-risk LGBTQ teens and transgender teens who are at risk for contracting HIV and AIDS or who have contracted the disease.

The new drug

According to Dr. Marvin Belzer, one of the most respected HIV specialists in California, infection rates among gay teens has risen in the last three years. Often, gay males are reluctant to go for treatment because they are afraid of any repercussions from family and friends. As a result, many of them are walking around HIV positive and don't know it. One of the treatments doctors feel will help reduce infections is the PrEP pill. It is a prescription for patients who are not already HIV positive. It is intended as a preventative if taken daily.

The other problem

The challenge, however, is getting teens to feel comfortable going for treatment. In addition, counseling is provided, along with ongoing checkups, to ensure that patients are being responsible. As Dr. Belzer explains, "When we treat someone with HIV, we’re doing more than just giving them pills and telling them what to do with it. We’re helping them prepare to live full, healthy lives.”

To read more, visit www.jjie.org/biggest-obstacles-to-hiv-treatment-arent-medical-doctor-says/

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