Boston Health Center Steps Up Mobile Health Van Services as City STD Rates Rise
As STD rates in Boston go up for minorities, Whittier Street Health Center will expand community outreach and treatment initiatives
ROXBURY, Mass., February 26, 2020 (Newswire.com) - Whittier Street Health Center is tackling the city’s minority population double-digit STD infection rates by expanding its Infectious Disease (ID) clinic and the use of its Mobile Health Van. To absorb the recent increase in ID cases, Whittier will grow ID clinical capacity 300%, decreasing or eliminating patient wait time, in addition to expanding on-site access to treatment for HIV, Hepatitis B & C, all sexually transmitted infections, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), and tuberculosis.
Whittier’s main service areas of Roxbury, Dorchester, Mattapan, Hyde Park, and the South End contain Boston’s highest STD infection rates, according to the Boston Public Health Commission. The infection numbers were particularly high for those under 30 years of age, and women of color. To combat this data, Whittier opened an ID clinic in 1994, and in 2018 launched a Mobile Health Van to reach those isolated from healthcare with on-site counseling, testing, education, referrals, and linkage to Whittier’s clinics.
“The communities we serve have the highest STD and HIV rates, but also live with the greatest number of barriers to healthcare,” said Frederica M. Williams, President and CEO of Whittier. “By expanding our Mobile Health Van outreach and building upon our previous successes with diagnosing and treating STDs we are confident we can lower those numbers, and connect our residents with life changing care.”
In May of 2019, the van identified two HIV positive cases among the homeless and drug users on Melnea Cass Blvd, earning national attention by spotlighting the growing incidences of undetected HIV growth within those populations. .
“An STI infection that could have been limited to one case, can easily turn into dozens or even hundreds of cases,” said Dr. Cyril Ubiem, Whittier’s Vice President of Programs and Services. “The good news is that there is a treatment available, and Whittier is committed to bringing access to those services to anyone who needs them.”
Whittier's ID Clinic is led by an Infectious Diseases Physician and staffed with nurses, behavioral health counselors, clinical care managers and navigators at both its 1290 Tremont Street and 278 Blue Hill Ave locations. Whittier also operates a free STD/HIV/HCV counseling and testing hotline from Monday to Friday 8:30 to 5:00pm. Call 617-308-0060. Services are available to anyone, including those who are not current Whittier patients.
The mission of Whittier Street Health Center is to provide high-quality, reliable and accessible primary health care and support services for diverse populations to promote wellness and eliminate health and social disparities. The health center also provides an on-site clinical partnership with Dana Farber Cancer Institute; dentistry; HIV services; laboratory; OB/GYN; pediatrics; eye care; mental health, and 40 social service initiatives. WSHC is a 501c3 charitable organization.
Source: Whittier Street Health Center