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Harris Health System has a long history of treating and caring for individuals with HIV and AIDS, even before researchers could identify the disease. In the summer of 1981, patients suffering from a variety of infections like Kaposi’s sarcoma, a skin disorder commonly associated with cancer, began showing up at Jefferson Davis Hospital. Baffled by this unknown disease’s deadly results, doctors and nurses saw many of their patients pass away.
The condition was eventually identified as AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome), a disease that attacks the body’s immune system, making it difficult to fight infection. The trigger for the disease is Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). While there is no known cure for HIV, Harris Health System’s expertise has helped thousands of individuals with HIV and AIDS manage their illness and, much like chronic sufferers of diabetes or heart disease, live long, productive lives.
In 1989, Harris Health opened
Thomas Street Health Center,the first freestanding facility in the nation dedicated to outpatient HIV care. Thomas Street Health Center is the cornerstone of all HIV care available to Harris County residents and provides multiple services under one roof to help individuals get the necessary support to achieve healthy outcomes.
Since passage of the
Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency (CARE) Act by Congress in 1990, Harris Health has received funding under Titles I, III, and IV. Today, these programs are spread throughout the community to provide a broad range of services for people with HIV.
Supported by a network of several health centers and inpatient care at
Ben Taub Hospital and
Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital, people with HIV receive the latest medications and treatments available because of the collaboration of top physicians and researchers from
Baylor College of Medicine and
The University of Texas Medical School at Houston (UTHealth). This collaboration has led to successful initiatives including the Women’s HIV Program, which has more than a 99 percent success rate in helping pregnant women with HIV deliver newborns who test negative for HIV.
HIV Prevention ProgramThomas Street Health Center’s HIV Prevention Program provides outreach and medical care to individuals at risk of HIV, or who are in an intimate partnership with an individual living with HIV. The goal of prevention services is to reduce the transmission of HIV through our many prevention initiatives that include HIV counseling, Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), and Non-occupational Post-exposure Prophylaxis (nPEP). Screening and treatment of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) are based on entry into the PrEP program; but referrals can always be made. In addition to Harris Health’s Financial Assistance Program, the HIV Prevention program accepts private insurance, Medicare and Medicaid for payment. The HIV Prevention Program sees patients Monday-Friday.