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Alabama: Rural HIV Patients Linked to Medical Care

April 24, 2014

This article was reported by Montgomery Advertiser.

The Montgomery Advertiser reported that Medical AIDS Outreach of Alabama, Inc., (MAO) is reaching more rural HIV patients by using a telemedicine program. Initiated two years ago, the program links doctors at an HIV-specific clinic to patients in rural and distant clinics so that no patient needs to travel more than 30 minutes for regular care.

"The problem we were facing was access to care," said Dr. Prashanth Bhat, a physician with MAO. "We cover a large area in Alabama.... We used to go to Selma every week. But in an eight-hour work day, about half the time was spent traveling. Now the same access through telemedicine doubles the number of patients served," he added. Many patients cannot afford frequent, long-distance trips to see a doctor. Approximately 25 percent of MAO's patients, or 300 individuals, use the telemedicine program for services, including behavioral health and clinical pharmacy consultations as well as medical care.

A grant from AIDS United provided funds for this Access to Care initiative program. Doctors can provide medical care and counseling to their HIV patients by communicating through a web-based video connection. The White House's National HIV/AIDS Strategy acknowledged MAO's telemedicine program in December.

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