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Caring for the Whole Person: Support Services at Cempa

For people who are HIV-positive, living with HIV can take a toll on physical and mental health. Being HIV-positive also can have an impact on your family. Cempa Community Care provides services that support individuals living with HIV so they can best care for their families.

For many people, living with HIV means that, with appropriate treatment, they can lead normal lives. With the advent of antiretroviral medications, individuals who are HIV-positive may only take one pill daily to suppress their viral load — and when viral load is suppressed and HIV cannot be detected with the use of medications, the virus cannot be transmitted.

However, living with the virus still has challenges. In addition to needing vigilant medication management and regular appointments, people with HIV may also cope with mental health issues, homelessness, or drug- or alcohol-related problems.

“Cempa offers the full spectrum of medical care for people with HIV, as well as vital support and case management services,” says Rachel Inman, Director of Support Services at Cempa Community Care. “We provide services, including mental health counseling and food boxes, that support an individual so they can better care for their families.”

A Holistic Approach
Cempa provides a complete range of medical and support services to clients that care for the whole person. Some services are limited to individuals who qualify based on state and federal income guidelines. Cempa’s holistic approach to services includes:
● Medical and drug assistance, including paying for insurance premiums, copays, and deductibles
● Benefit and insurance enrollment
● Dental and vision assistance
● Behavioral health services and support groups
● Housing assistance
● Transportation, including gas cards, bus passes, and agency-based transportation
● Fresh produce and pantry items through the Cempa Community Care Market and access to a registered dietitian

While the life expectancy for HIV-positive individuals has increased, they still face a stigma from others about living with HIV.

“People with HIV have additional health concerns, as well,” Inman says. “In some cases, patients may experience an earlier onset of aging or other complications from older types of medications that may have been taken prior to the most recent advancements, which have fewer adverse side effects.”

Similarly, if an individual struggles with managing mental health or a stable living situation, medication may not be the leading priority in their personal hierarchy of needs. The Cempa team works to help address these needs so that clients are able to successfully adhere to their medication regimens.

“Our Support Services eliminate possible barriers to prevent a client from coming in for an appointment,” Inman says. “The goal for people living with HIV is to remain compliant with medications to keep the viral load suppressed. We’re engaged on many levels to help meet clients where they are.”

Caring for the Family
Every holiday season, with community support, Cempa provides Support Services clients with a Christmas party, complete with gifts for clients and their children. Inman organizes this program and appreciates the donations and contributions from Cempa staff and board members, people in the community, and even other clients.

“We are grateful to be able to fulfill a family’s wish list for Christmas,” Inman says. “Everybody needs support and someone beside them to walk through this journey. This virus can affect anybody — your next-door neighbor, your colleague. It’s important to stay educated about how HIV is and is not spread and to share that message with other people.”

Read more about Support Services at Cempa.