Project manager, Project HEAL
Cammeo Mauntel-Medici is a community health specialist and an expert on the importance of routine screening for preventing the spread of transmissible diseases. She is project leader of UIC’s Project HEAL, a collaboration of clinicians, public health professionals and hospital staff to expand routine testing for HIV and hepatitis C.
Officials estimate one in eight HIV-positive individuals are unaware they carry the virus — that’s about 4,300 HIV-positive Chicagoans who may unknowingly infect others.
“Knowing your HIV status is one of the most powerful tools for preventing the inadvertent spread of the virus to others,” Mauntel-Medici says. So scaling-up HIV screening is a central strategy in curbing the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Chicago, she explains.
In 2014, through the efforts of Project HEAL, UI Health’s emergency department implemented “opt-out” HIV screening — all eligible patients between the ages of 13 and 64 are informed that they will be tested for HIV unless they decline. Since opt-out screening began, testing in the ER has jumped from an average of seven tests per month to more than 550 per month; about a dozen new cases have been identified, and those patients referred for care.
Mauntel-Medici is working to expand opt-out HIV screening to UI Health’s inpatient units and Mile Square Health Centers. She is developing a similar screening program for hepatitis C.
- Disease prevention
- Community health