YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Comprehensive Care Center in Youngstown sees over 300 people for HIV treatment each year. The center was founded by the Ursuline Sisters, a ministry that believes treatment can go far beyond medicine.
October is AIDS Awareness Month. In Mahoning County, 470 people are living with HIV and 225 of them have AIDS.
For many, the Comprehensive Care Center on Oak Hill Avenue can be a scary place — it’s where people go to get tested for HIV.
“The last person we actually tested this week was crying because they were so nervous,” one nurse said.
She believes them when they say it’s the longest 20 minutes of their lives.
The center is part of the Ursuline Sisters HIV/AIDS Ministry, which treats people with the disease through blood work, medicine and pills. But it doesn’t stop there.
“For a lot of people, that might not be the biggest issue in their life. It’s an illness, but they still have to live, they still have to work, they still have to eat,” said Tequan Cosper, director of the Comprehensive Care Center.
So Ursuline Sisters fills in those holes. It helps with housing, transportation and job assistance. It treats people with or without insurance.
Staff members say a wraparound approach is essential to making people with HIV/AIDS feel whole.
“By providing a comfortable, caring and welcoming space where people know that they’re loved, I think that that really makes a difference for a lot of people because they don’t necessarily get that in their day-to-day lives,” Dan Wakefield said.
They also give something many with HIV/AIDS don’t receive — love and acceptance.
“When they walk through the doors, we frequently hear that people feel that it’s not a typical doctor’s office,” Wakefield said. “So they actually feel that the staff cares for them because the staff does.”
You don’t have to go to the Comprehensive Care Center to get tested. It mobilizes around the community to bring testing close to you.
To find out where it’ll be, call 330-793-0434. For more information, you can visit the Ursuline Sisters HIV/AIDS Ministry’s website.