Health Department's new van to patrol Northwest Baltimore

Mobile lab's mission to be treatment and prevention of AIDS and other STDs

August 27, 1999|By La Quinta Dixon | La Quinta Dixon,SUN STAFF

The Baltimore City Health Department plans to target Northwest Baltimore neighborhoods with a new mobile lab aimed at combating AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases by offering free testing and information.

The van was paid for in part by an $800,000 grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control to the Ujima Outreach Program, a nonprofit organization founded in 1991 to offer mobile health care to people in communities with a high incidence of sexually transmitted diseases. Among the neighborhoods the van will visit are Forest Park, Rosemont and Walbrook.

"We are targeting those areas because they have a high number of high-risk people," including drug users and prostitutes, said Charlene Harven, Ujima project coordinator.

About 50 civic leaders and health officials gathered yesterday in a parking lot at Dolphin Lane and Pennsylvania Avenue to get a first look at the $160,000 van.

The remainder of the grant money will be used to support such efforts as distributing health care educational information and enrolling people with the human immunodeficiency virus and acquired immune deficiency syndrome in an early-intervention program, said Deena Napata, HIV prevention program coordinator for the city Health Department.

Harven said the van will begin canvassing neighborhoods by mid-October, once a vehicle inspection is completed and six outreach workers -- two community educators, two lab technicians and two nurse practitioners -- are hired.

The van will make rounds from noon to 8 p.m. four days a week at eight locations: near the intersections of Garrison Boulevard and Duvall Avenue; Clifton Avenue and Denison Street; Piedmont Avenue and Hilton Street; Franklintown Road and Edmondson Avenue; Winchester and Stricker streets; Pennsylvania and Fremont avenues; and North Avenue and Pulaski Highway.

Services the van will offer will include tests for pregnancy, syphilis, gonorrhea and AIDS. Patients will also receive on-site treatment and counseling referrals.

Lab results will be available within 20 minutes and patients will be referred to pharmacies offering low-cost or free prescriptions, Harven said.

Pub Date: 8/27/99

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