Later this week, 16 HIV and AIDS patients are expected to begin moving into a new River Edge Behavioral Health Center complex, the organization announced Monday.
River Edge, which has always focused on patients with mental illnesses or drug problems, agreed to step in when the Central City AIDS Network missed a crucial deadline for funding, crippling the organization.
To take on this new program where we know everyone is diagnosed with HIV, this is a new book of business for us, said Cynthia Patterson, director of supportive housing for River Edge.
Patterson said the new River Edge patients will be housed in a confidential location close to downtown Macon. The new facility has enough space for 31 people, allowing it to help people who arent current clients of the Central City AIDS Network. That could include patients who have been staying with friends or have been living on the streets.
HIV and AIDS are treatable but not curable. River Edges transitional housing is designed to move people into permanent housing in less than a year, but the organization also can ensure treatments are being properly followed to keep patients as healthy as possible, Patterson said.
Michael Leon, executive director of Central City AIDS Network, said he doesnt know of any of his patients who wont be getting appropriate care with other organizations. Central City is still trying to figure out its path ahead.
Were just barely surviving right now, he said. Without the funding, were just going to rethink our strategy. I think for the time being we might just go back to what we started with, which was volunteer services, until the board makes a decision.
Many of Central Citys patients have gone on to find housing on their own.
River Edges transitional housing program is funded by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, which had been funding Central City.
A Georgia Department of Public Health report said 2,526 HIV and AIDS cases of people 13 and older had been diagnosed by 2010 in a Middle Georgia region bordered roughly by Houston, Jasper, Hancock and Washington counties.
The district also includes Crawford, Monroe, Bibb, Peach, Jones, Putnam, Baldwin, Wilkinson and Twiggs counties.
To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.