The AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin opened a new HIV medical facility in Madison Tuesday, which is World AIDS Day.
The facility will be operated in partnership with University of Wisconsin Health, and with the physicians working through the Madison office of the AIDS Resource Center at 600 Williamson Street, Mike Gifford, AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin president, said.
The facility will provide treatment for HIV/AIDS, dental care and mental health care, according to a resource center statement.
Many patients face barriers to treatment, such as a lack of housing or employment, so the center will also offer services such as legal representation and housing assistance to help address these obstacles, Gifford said.
“We are really excited to open this center,” Gifford said. “It brings together medical care, health services and social services.”
The new facility will also offer a new preventative treatment called pre-exposure prophylaxis. In this treatment, individuals who are at a very high risk of contracting HIV but still test negative are prescribed the same medicines as those already diagnosed.
This treatment has proven to be more than 90 percent effective in preventing new HIV infections, Gifford said.
At the end of 2014, just less than 7,000 individuals living in Wisconsin had been diagnosed with HIV, but it is estimated that the real number is more than 8,000 due to undiagnosed cases, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.
There were 226 new cases diagnosed in 2014, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. Milwaukee County had the highest number of diagnoses, and Dane County came in second.
Of the individuals diagnosed with HIV, a disproportionately large percentage of them were individuals belonging to ethnic minorities — 67 percent were ethnic minorities despite minorities making up only 17 percent of Wisconsin’s population, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.
The AIDS Resource Center currently serves around 3,500 affected individuals throughout Wisconsin, Gifford said. The other individuals who receive care are treated by UW Health, other academic institutions or medical health care providers.
“The opening of new medical homes in Madison and our ongoing dedication to expanding HIV prevention and testing services to all who need them everywhere in Wisconsin are just two of the ways we mark this solemn and important day,” Gifford said in the statement.