The Chase-Brexton Clinic, a private center that treats people infected with the AIDS virus, will soon begin offering mental health services to people before they get severely depressed or anxious over their struggles with the virus.
Armed with a $675,000 federal grant, the clinic plans to begin offering therapy to people soon after they test positive for the virus.
The money, to be spread out over three years, will pay for a part-time psychiatrist, two social workers and two case managers.
The services should be in place by mid-December, clinic officials said at a news briefing yesterday.
Infected people too often go without mental health therapy until they are in the depths of depression, said Jack Neville Jr., social services director at the Mount Vernon clinic.
By the time they reach that point, many patients have lost their jobs and homes -- problems that place even more stress on their mental health.
The mental health professionals will not only see patients at the Chase-Brexton office, but also at the offices of four private doctors who have large numbers of patients infected with the human immunodeficiency virus, which causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome.
First established as a gay health center in 1972, Chase-Brexton later evolved into a clinic offering HIV testing and a wide array of health services to people infected with the virus.