GO CARE is celebrating National HIV Testing Day Wednesday, June 27, as well as hosting "A Reception Celebrating 30 Years of Care" Thursday, June 28 at 6 p.m.
GO CARE is a clinic located at 1801 N 7th in West Monroe. The clinic provides HIV testing, education, prevention services, and HIV medical treatment. The clinic was organized in 1988. As of 2018, the clinic has also expanded to providing healthcare for the LGBTQ population in the Northeast Louisana region.
"We are fortunate to now be occupying a 6,000 ft. building," says Mark Windham, CEO of GO CARE. "We have four exam rooms so that we can provide premium healthcare to our patients who are living with HIV." The clinic currently serves about 375 patients.
National HIV Testing Day is Wednesday, June 27. GO CARE is hosting an all-day celebration from 8 to 4 p.m. at the clinic. The goal is for as many people as possible to come in for free HIV testing. There are refreshments and music available at the clinic. "A Reception Celebrating 30 Years fo Care" is June 28 at 6 p.m. The event celebrates the recent expansion and acknowledges the retirement of two employees and rotation of two long-term board members.
GO CARE also works to fight the stigma and misconceptions that surround HIV. "It is our duty to respect and maintain the privacy of any patient that comes through our door," according to Windham. "Everyone has heard for years that an HIV diagnosis was essentially considered a death sentence. The medication regiments were difficult on the body, things were constantly changing, and there were all kinds of difficulties." Patients living with HIV often had to take multiple pills at multiple times a day for treatment.
Windham explains that the treatment has greatly advanced since these days. After a person receives a positive diagnosis, they are prescribed with an antiretroviral therapy. Patients can take one pill once a day and have an average life expectancy.
"We are seeing an increase in intravenous drug use and needle-sharing, which makes people more susceptible to contraction of the virus," says Windham. "It's important to know your status. The earlier you can get tested and into care, the earlier you can get the virus suppressed faster."
More information about GO CARE is available here.