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Increased Retention in HIV Programs Part of New Guidelines

March 27, 2012

An association of AIDS physicians recently issued new recommendations to help link HIV patients with care and boost treatment adherence.

"These guidelines are the foundation of an evolving blueprint that practitioners can use as a resource to improve entry into and retention in HIV care as well as adherence to HIV treatments," said Dr. Melanie Thompson, International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care (IAPAC) panel chair.

"Of those with HIV, 80 percent know their status; of those who know, only 70 percent are linked to care; and of those who are linked to care, only 60 percent are retained in care," said Dr. Carlos del Rio of the Emory Center for AIDS Research. "Only slightly over a quarter are receiving what we would consider proper treatment."

The high cost of treatment and the lack of insurance remain barriers for patients, said Jacqueline Muther, HIV policy and contracts manager for Atlanta-based Grady Health System. "This has been on the radar screen for quite a while," she said, applauding the IAPAC's guidelines. "The worst thing in the world is to put out something which is really good science, and good health, and not be able to provide the medication."

Socioeconomic factors are among the top reasons people drop out of treatment programs, said del Rio. "Many of the populations that are suffering from the epidemic are poor," he said. "It disproportionately affects the poor; it's a disease of poverty ... for a lot of people with HIV in this country, HIV is not their highest priority. They have other priorities and that prevents them from staying in treatment."

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Excerpted from:
Georgia Voice (Atlanta)
03.15.2012; Matt Schafer

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