Medical and legal services team up for folks with HIV/AIDS
Every step of the way it will be based on patients consent and what they want and how they want to direct their services.
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -
Leaders from the Mississippi Center for Justice, the University of Mississippi Medial Center, the state Department of Health and the Jackson Medical Mall are announcing the state's first ever medical-legal partnership to provide free access to medical and legal services for people living with HIV/AIDS.
"The stigma and discrimination confronting people with HIV on a daily basis can be debilitating," said Marni von Wilpert, an attorney with the Mississippi Center for Justice.
von Wilpert says one of the biggest reasons people with HIV/AIDS fall out of treatment is because of housing and employment discrimination which federal law prohibits.
"So we have patients who've lost their health insurance because they lost their jobs. Once they lost their job, because they disclosed their HIV status, that means they can no longer fill their prescriptions, got to their doctors and are kind of in a lurch on how to get medical treatment," said von Wilpert.
Currently more than 250 medical-legal partnerships of this kind exist across the nation. By adding Mississippi to the list, the hope is combat the spread of the virus while making sure patients know their rights.
"Every step of the way it will be based on patients consent and what they want and how they want to direct their services," said von Wilpert.
"This provides us with a unique opportunity to make a significant advancement in the lives of these patients that we treat who are dealing with the issues of HIV/AIDS," said Dr. Claude Brunson with UMMC.
Mississippi has one of the highest rates of HIV in the nation, especially within the African American community. While the partnership will first be housed at the Jackson Medical Mall, the goal is to expand it to reach all corners of the state.
"Mississippi can begin turning the corner to better health for many and justice for all," said von Wilpert.
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