Gilead’s FOCUS Program Helps Zero In on Early HIV Detection

Stories@Gilead - March 21, 2024 - 2 min read

A 22-year-old college student who didn’t feel well was treated at an urgent care facility in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and expected to recover soon. But when his symptoms worsened, he returned to the emergency department and was given a more thorough check-up and routine screening exams – including an HIV test – based on the facility’s screening eligibility criteria.

When the test came back positive, the student was immediately linked to care and he became one of the many people whose lives have been impacted by Gilead’s FOCUS program. Launched in 2010, FOCUS enables partners to develop and share best practices in screenings and diagnosis of HIV, hepatitis B and C, as well as linkage to care, in accordance with public health guidelines.

“It probably would have been some time for someone to say, ‘Let’s test this patient for HIV,’” says registered nurse Melissa Mollere of Ochsner Health System. “There was no reason to suspect anything otherwise.

When FOCUS first launched in Baton Rouge in 2016, the city had the highest number of late-stage HIV diagnoses of any city in the country. With FOCUS partnerships in place, the number of late-stage diagnoses has since been cut in half.

By collaborating with state and local officials, and healthcare partners in more than 85 cities and counties in the United States, FOCUS partners are serving historically underserved populations who often face the greatest disease burden. The program meets people wherever they enter the health system — from emergency departments to urgent care centers, and even syringe service programs.

Watch the video above to learn more about the FOCUS program.

In the United States, the FOCUS program is a public health initiative that enables partners to develop and share best practices in routine blood-borne virus (HIV, HCV, HBV) screening, diagnosis and linkage to care in accordance with screening guidelines promulgated by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), and state and local public health departments. FOCUS funding supports HIV, HCV and HBV screening and linkage to a first appointment. FOCUS partners do not use FOCUS awards for activities beyond linkage to a first appointment.

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