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Vivent Health plans construction on new Milwaukee clinic near Deer District

Vivent Health's multi-million dollar investment will continue to help break down stigmas and barriers that individuals face each day when it comes to the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Posted at 5:16 PM, Aug 12, 2022

MILWAUKEE — HIV was once the leading cause of death for young people, but thanks to scientific advances and health clinics like Vivent Health in Milwaukee, individuals are living longer and healthier lives.

Formerly known as the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin, Vivent Health provides a multitude of services for those living with HIV.

Dr. Leslie Cockerham is the Chief Medical Officer at Vivent Health.

"We often find that a lot of our patients are not just dealing with their HIV, but also having issues finding an affordable safe place to live, having access to healthy food, having their dental or behavioral health needs met," said Dr. Cockerham.

Vivent Health provided TMJ4 with numbers that break down the ratios. Nearly half of all individuals living with HIV in Wisconsin reside in Milwaukee and drilling down further, the majority of new HIV diagnoses in Milwaukee were found in zip codes that include 53204, 53214, 15, 16, and 18. Their patient demographics are 75% men, 23% female, 1.6% transgender, 50% Black, 35% white, and 10.9% Hispanic.

"There's so much that we still need to do. We are still seeing the same amount of HIV diagnoses in this country every year and we're not making a big dent in that and a lot of that does have to do with stigma and access to care," said Dr. Cockerham.

It's that reality that has led Vivent Health to a new, expanded location. They're currently located on Plankinton in downtown Milwaukee and will soon move near Deer District to a 46,000-square foot space on N. Sixth Street.

"We need to be able to serve about 1,000 more people here in Milwaukee. In order to do that, we needed to find additional space. We're going to be able to double the number of exam rooms that we'll be able to expand our pharmacy, expand our food pantry and all our social services programming," said Bill Keeton who serves as the Chief Advocacy Officer at Vivent.

Construction is scheduled to begin this month and the new location will open in April 2023. This particular location was chosen specifically because it's in the heart of the area with the highest prevalence of people living with or at risk of contracting HIV in the entire state. The good news is access to Vivent Health services has helped 95% of their patients achieve viral suppression, which means a person with HIV can live a healthy, normal life expectancy.

"An HIV/AIDS diagnosis today is not the death sentence that it was 25-30 years ago. People with HIV can live long healthy lives and basically a normal life span, but they need to have access to medications and doctors in comprehensive care," said Keeton.

Vivent Health's multi-million dollar investment will continue to help break down stigmas and barriers that individuals face each day when it comes to the fight against HIV/AIDS.

"I think it's incumbent on all of us to be aware and then to help people realize that there are resources," said Dr. Cockerham.

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