The Positive Health Clinic: Holistic Care for People Living With HIV
Tori Pipak, a physician assistant at Allegheny Health Network’s Positive Health Clinic, details the comprehensive services the clinic provides to people living with HIV.
HIV is a lifelong prognosis, which is why the Positive Health Clinic offers lifelong care to its patients. holistic care that addresses every aspect of their patients’ lives.
Allegheny Health Network’s Positive Health Clinic (PHC) serves people living with HIV, holistically addressing their patients’ needs. Tori Pipak, PA-C, AAHIVS, a physician assistant, has worked at the PHC for 5 years.
The PHC is funded by a Ryan White grant, which allows them to provide a multitude of services that people living with HIV typically could not receive through the traditional healthcare system. “By having as much as we have in one spot, it allows patients to get as much care as possible,” Pipak said.
Some of these include social services for housing and utilities, food services like SNAP benefits, and mental health services. Overall, the PHC attempts to mitigate the factors that may inhibit their patients from receiving care, such as a lack of insurance or transportation.
Pipak explained that people living with HIV commonly experience barriers like poverty, homelessness, or stigma that make it difficult for them to attend multiple healthcare appointments. This is why the PHC offers comprehensive primary care services in addition to specialized HIV treatment. “By taking care of all of those aspects of a patient’s life, we’re able to make sure they’re staying undetectable and staying on their HIV medications and feeling as healthy as they can,” Pipak said.
Pipak highlighted the PHC’s new mobile health van, describing it as “very comprehensive.” If patients agree, the mobile health van can visit patients at home, a vital service to ensure the health of those who have been lost to care. The van is also used for community outreach and HIV prevention; once a week, PHC takes the van to different communities to provide HIV screening. “If anybody were to test positive for HIV,” Pipak explained, “we’re able to get the confirmatory bloodwork and get them into care as soon as possible.”
Pipak addressed the common misconception that HIV is “an old diagnosis,” or no longer a health crisis. “It is still happening, and definitely can be prevented,” Pipak said.