Northwestern Memorial Physician Contributes to First Ever National AIDS Strategy
As a Presidential Advisory Council on HIV-AIDS member, Patricia Garcia, MD, MPH will help monitor the nation’s progress toward reducing the incidence of HIV
Every nine and a half minutes, someone becomes infected with HIV. Almost half of all Americans know someone living with HIV. In response to these and other staggering statistics, the Obama administration has renewed their commitment to this domestic epidemic with the first ever national AIDS strategy. Patricia Garcia, MD, MPH, director of the perinatal HIV program at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, serves as a member of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV-AIDS (PACHA) and was on hand for President Obama’s historic announcement last week. PACHA was involved in the formation of the strategy and will continue to monitor the nation’s progress toward its overall strategic goal of reducing the yearly number of new HIV infections in the U.S. by one quarter within five years.
"One of the most important parts of the national AIDS strategy is the focus on access to high quality care early in a person's disease,” said Garcia. “For example in Illinois we have taught every single labor and delivery nurse how to do HIV testing. I'm really pleased that Northwestern Memorial and its statewide partners, the Pediatric AIDS Chicago Prevention Initiative and the Perinatal Rapid Testing Initiative in Illinois, have a model of care that's consistent with national strategy."
As director of Northwestern Memorial’s perinatal HIV program, Garcia helps provide comprehensive care to women with HIV. Since the program launched in 1999, 100 percent of the infants born to mothers in the program have been HIV-free. Garcia believes her work at Northwestern Memorial informs her PACHA membership. She currently serves on the PACHA subcommittee focused on access to care issues.
“In my work at Northwestern Memorial, I see firsthand how access to care and reducing stigma are issues that loom very large for women with HIV,” said Garcia. “It's also nice to have the national strategic perspective that PACHA offers to understand how what we do on a local and statewide level can advance the national strategy.”
Garcia and her 22 fellow council members have several meetings scheduled in the upcoming months as part of an ongoing process of monitoring and making recommendations.
“We want to ensure we are providing a safety net of prevention to people that will help us meet the goals of the strategic plan,” added Garcia.