Northern Virginia's largest provider of HIV/AIDS care services, Inova Juniper Program, was recently granted more than $250,000 from CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, an insurance provider for D.C., Maryland and Virginia.
In a Dec. 16 statement announcing the donation, CareFirst's Maria Harris Tildon pointed to Inova's critical role in fighting HIV in Northern Virginia.
''And it was important for CareFirst to step up and provide the resources to increase access to HIV and AIDS care for the region,'' Tildon said.
Karen Berube, director of the Inova Juniper Program, which serves approximately 1,100 people, says the new funding will be used to provide primary medical care to new clients at six different Northern Virginia branches: Springfield, Arlington, Dumfries, Manassas, Mount Vernon and Reston.
''We will also be using the funds to hire a part-time social worker,'' she adds. ''These funds will pay for part of the position.''
Berube emphasizes that the donation will help Inova serve the estimated 250 people who were displaced by the March 31 closure of Whitman-Walker Clinic's Arlington location.
Inova Juniper Program opened its Arlington clinic in June, which is accepting new patients, less than a mile from WWC's former location.
''We just want people to know that we're here and it's a great place to get care. If you're currently in need of services, please call and we'll get you in right away,'' she says, adding that the LGBT community will feel comfortable at the clinic.
''We are very open to serving everyone,'' Berube says. ''The LGBT community will find it a very nice place to get care. We actually had one patient who came from Whitman-Walker and he said, 'Oh it just feels so good here.' The clinic in Arlington is very cozy and I think it just feels good to people. And we certainly hire a lot of staff from the gay and lesbian community.''
Like Whitman-Walker Clinic, Inova Juniper Program is funded through a Ryan White Grant and accepts insured and uninsured patients.
While Inova Juniper Program does not offer HIV testing or counseling specifically, Berube points to the Arlington County Health Department and Northern Virginia AIDS Ministry (NOVAM), for such services.
In addition to primary care, Inova provides mental-health, substance-abuse and case-management services to HIV-positive patients. According to the program's website, it is the ''premier'' HIV/AIDS service provider for pregnant women with HIV.
''Every pregnant woman with HIV who has received care at Inova Juniper Program has given birth to a healthy baby that is free of HIV,'' the website states.
For more information about the Inova Juniper Program, visit inova.org/juniper.