IHS Adds HIV Prevention & STI Services in an ER to Help End the HIV Epidemic in Phoenix

Content From: LCDR Paul Bloomquist, MD, U.S. Public Health Service, and Chief, Centers of Excellence, Phoenix Indian Medical Center, Indian Health ServicePublished: November 11, 20202 min read


LCDR Paul Bloomquist

Ending the HIV epidemic in the United States by 2030 is a goal of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and its operational divisions, including the Indian Health Service (IHS). To assist in achieving this goal, the IHS Phoenix Indian Medical Center’s (PIMC) HIV Center of Excellence—a primary care HIV clinic—has created an innovative, customer-focused initiative to provide HIV and sexually transmitted infection (STI) services through the PIMC Emergency Department (ED).  The goal is to have a front-line service for the elimination of HIV available to American Indians and Alaskan Natives (AI/AN) in Maricopa County, Arizona, one of the 57 jurisdictions prioritized in Phase I of Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America.

Currently available on a consult basis, in early 2021, the service will be embedded within the PIMC Emergency Department where full-time staff will provide expert STI services and, if indicated, immediately initiate PrEP, medications that can prevent HIV infection. ED patients will then follow up in the medical center’s primary care HIV clinic, which will tailor care for those at high risk for HIV acquisition. This approach will enable AI/AN individuals at risk for HIV to access additional services such as substance use disorder treatment, treatment for complicated or frequent STI diagnoses, and HIV prevention education, all intended to reduce the risk of HIV acquisition. 

One of several Indian Health Service activities supported by Fiscal Year 2020 Minority HIV/ADS Fund (MHAF) resources, this new model consolidates into a single service line newly added PrEP and STI services with existing HIV testing , rapid HIV treatment start, and HIV primary care services to support Maricopa County in achieving EHE goals.