Charlotte nonprofit gives people with HIV free or low-cost medical care

CHARLOTTE — Channel 9 is spotlighting a local nonprofit helping people with HIV diagnoses in the community.

RAO Community Health provides free or low-cost medical care to those who are at high risk of HIV or have the virus.

Lynnell Scott told Channel 9′s Damany Lewis he’s alive today thanks to the medical care he’s receiving from RAO in Charlotte.

“I feel like they saved my life to be honest,” Scott said.

Scott said it was an advertisement he saw on an app that helped him get his free medication. That medicine helps prevent him from contracting HIV.

“II feel like they really care about you and I have a team of support,” he said. “It’s different. I have a community of support.”

The nonprofit’s CEO, Bernard Davis, told Lewis more about what that difference is.

“Often times when we look at medicine and healthcare, individuals don’t have the opportunity to have someone that looks like them,” he said. “So when they tell their story, they don’t feel embarrassed or talked down to.”

The latest numbers from the Mecklenburg County health department show 6,800 people were living with HIV in the county as of December 2019. Davis said RAO’s mission is to support minority and underserved populations battling the disease.

“Also your social services and housing, and we also have an intervention where we are looking at diminishing the stigma when it comes to HIV services,” Davis said.

Now, the staff at RAO have bigger plans for next year. They’re expanding by offering primary care services for those who can’t afford it.

“It is important that we have a place individuals receive their primary care, we become their home for primary care and help them in those areas because we are serving the vulnerable population,” Davis said.

Scott says the expansion of services will only help more people get care from providers whose hearts are in what they do.

“Authentic. I feel like they are passionate with what we do here,” Scott said. “I feel like they care they really care, in a real way.”

RAO is holding a gala this Saturday at the Westin Charlotte. Tickets are available for purchase; click here for more.

(WATCH BELOW: HIV cure: Third person appears to be free of virus with novel treatment)

Damany Lewis

Damany Lewis, wsoctv.com

Damany Lewis is an anchor and reporter for Channel 9.