Free HIV medical and support services
By Kesha Whitaker
The Shelby County Ryan White Program, which provides free primary medical and support services to people living with HIV/AIDS, has launched a new campaign to raise awareness and promote treatment. The “Know Now. Live Longer.” campaign is part of the Ryan White Minority AIDS Initiative in response to the disproportionate impact that HIV/AIDS has on the area’s African-American population. Of the 6,673 people living with HIV/AIDS in the Memphis area, 78.7 percent are African-American.
“The goal of the campaign is twofold,” said Lisa Krull, Ryan White Program contracts coordinator. “First, we want to educate the community about the services offered by the Ryan White Program. Second, we want to raise awareness that treatment for HIV/AIDS is available and makes it possible for those living with the disease to live long, healthy, productive lives.”
The campaign will include billboards, public service announcements, posters, bus ads, postcards, informational wallet cards, social and online media, and fliers to help get the word out about the program, a federally funded initiative that provides free primary medical and support services to more than 500,000 persons living with HIV/AIDS in the United States. The services are intended to reduce the use of more costly inpatient care and increase access to care for underserved populations. In addition, the campaign promotes an HIV care hotline, (877) HIV-KNOW.
All of the campaign materials, as well as the website, hivmemphis.org, feature Shelby County residents who are living with HIV/AIDS. Among them is Nicole, a 37-year-old Memphis native who has lived with HIV since she was sexually assaulted 14 years ago.
“The Ryan White Program has helped me, a young, self-employed businesswoman, with my HIV medication costs. It also offered me HIV/AIDS education classes and nutritious food. It is a wonderful resource,” Nicole said. In addition to Nicole, several other courageous, HIV-positive Memphis residents have agreed to lend their stories to the campaign
Services provided by the Ryan White Program include: outpatient medical care, AIDS pharmaceutical assistance, medical case management, mental health services, medical nutrition therapy, transportation to appointments, early intervention services, dental health care, a food bank, emergency financial assistance, substance abuse outpatient care, psychosocial support, and health education workshops. Memphis-area residents are eligible for Ryan White Program services if they reside in one of the following counties: Crittenden, DeSoto, Marshall, Tate, Tunica, Shelby, Fayette, and Tipton. In addition, eligible persons must be underinsured or lack health insurance, have proof they are HIV-positive, and have an income at or below 300 percent of federal poverty level.
You can learn more about the Ryan White Program by visiting hivmemphis.org or by calling (877) HIV-KNOW. This project is funded by grant awards from the US Department of Health and Human Services, the Health Resources and Services Administration, and Shelby County Government.