Linkage to Care for HIV-Infected Heterosexual Men in the United States

Alpert Medical School, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, USA.
Clinical Infectious Diseases (Impact Factor: 8.89). 01/2011; 52 Suppl 2(Supplement 2):S223-30. DOI: 10.1093/cid/ciq046
Source: PubMed


In the United States, the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) epidemic among heterosexual men disproportionately affects individuals involved with the criminal justice system, injection drug and other substance users, and racial and ethnic minorities. These overlapping populations confront similar social and structural disparities that contribute to HIV risk and limit access to HIV testing, treatment, and care. In this review, we discuss barriers to linkage to comprehensive HIV care for specific subpopulations of heterosexual men and examine approaches for enhancing linkage to care for this diverse population.

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    • "Research indicates that identifying patients who are at high risk for lack of HIV care linkage, as well as understanding their health behavior related to care entry and retention, is critical. Researchers have also called for use of the growing evidence base to target appropriate HIV interventions to specific sub-populations for improved health and HIV outcomes [27-31]. "
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    ABSTRACT: In a significant geographical shift in the distribution of HIV infection, the US South - comprising 17 states - now has the greatest number of adults and adolescents with HIV (PLHIV) in the nation. More than 60% of PLHIV are not in HIV care in Alabama and Mississippi, contrasted with a national figure of 25%. Poorer HIV outcomes raise concerns about HIV-related inequities for southern PLHIV, which warrant further study. This qualitative study sought to understand experiences of low-income PLHIV on the AIDS Drug Assistance Program in engagement and retention in continuous HIV care in two sites in Alabama. The study was designed using grounded theory. Semi-structured interviews with 25 PLHIV explored experiences with care linkage, reported factors and behaviors affecting engagement/retention in continuous HIV care, including socio-economic factors. To triangulate sources, 25 additional interviews were conducted with health and social service providers from the same clinics and AIDS Service Organizations where clients obtained services. Across the narratives, we used the HIV care continuum to map where care delays and drop out occurred. Using open coding, constant comparison and iterative data collection and analysis, we constructed a conceptual model illustrating how participants described their path to HIV care engagement and retention. Most respondents reported delayed HIV care, describing concentric factors: psychological distress, fear, lack of information, substance use, incarceration, lack of food, transport and housing. Stark health system drop out occurred immediately after receipt of HIV test results, with ART initiation generally occurring when individuals became ill. Findings highlight these enablers to care: Alabama's 'social infrastructure': 'twinning' medical with social services, 'social enablers' who actively link PLHIV to care, and 'enabling spaces' that break down PLHIV isolation, facilitating HIV care linkage/retention. Ryan White-funded programs, together with housing, food and psychological support were pre-conditions for participants' entry and retention in HIV care. The path to achieving continuous HIV care for individuals at risk of lack of entry or delayed HIV care requires robust social-level responses, like in Alabama, that address physical and mental health of clients and directly engage the particular social and economic contexts and vulnerabilities of southern PLHIV.
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    ABSTRACT: Early entry to HIV care and receipt of antiretroviral therapy improve the health of the individual and decrease the risk of transmission in the community. To increase the limited information on prospective decisions to enter care and how these decisions relate to beliefs about HIV medications, we analyzed interview data from the Never in Care Project, a multisite project conducted in Indiana, New Jersey, New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington State. From March 2008 through August 2010, we completed structured interviews with 134 persons with no evidence of HIV care entry, 48 of whom also completed qualitative interviews. Many respondents believed that HIV care entails the passive receipt of medications that may be harmful or unnecessary, resulting in reluctance to enter care. Respondents voiced concerns about prescription practices and preserving future treatment options, mistrust of medications and medical care providers, and ambivalence about the life-preserving properties of medications in light of an assumed negative impact on quality of life. Our results support the provision of information on other benefits of care (beyond medications), elicitation of concerns about medications, and assessment of psychosocial barriers to entering care. These tasks should begin at the time a positive test result is delivered and continue throughout the linkage-to-care process; for persons unwilling to enter care immediately, support should be provided in nonmedical settings.
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