Caring for those with HIV

October 14, 2008 

NOT IN CARE

Lack of medical care increases an infected person’s risk of opportunistic infections and of passing on the virus to others.

Research by Dr. Wayne Duffus of the USC School of Medicine and the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control shows that almost three-quarters of South Carolinians who tested positive from 2004-06 did not get medical care within 60 days of diagnosis. Almost two-thirds were not in care even 90 days later.

Another Duffus study showed that 14 percent of people diagnosed between 2004-05 didn’t show up for medical care at all. Of those who showed up, 80 percent weren’t consistent.

SOCIAL ISSUES

Concerns beyond testing and taking HIV medicines can have a big impact on the health of people who have HIV/AIDS. Homelessness, substance abuse and mental illness prevent some people from going for treatment and taking their medicines consistently.

When people take medicines sporadically, they build resistance so the medicines no longer work against the virus in their bodies.

HELP FOR PEOPLE WITH HIV/AIDS

Case managers are key to helping to get and keep many people with HIV/AIDS in care.

Their duties include patient follow-up, check-ins to make sure they are keeping prescriptions current and taking their medicines, helping with transportation to doctors’ appointments, and working on nonmedical issues that can affect clients’ health.

In South Carolina, case managers generally are overworked, having responsibility for up to 120 patients each.

CDC studies have shown that intensive case management, in which case loads are limited to 20 or 25 people, successfully links 80 percent of people diagnosed with HIV to care.

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