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North Carolina Clinic, AIDS Organization Reach Out to HIV-Positive Hispanics

August 12, 2003

The Winston-Salem, N.C.-based AIDS service organization AIDS Care Service has been conducting outreach programs in the local Hispanic community to persuade HIV-positive individuals to receive treatment at the Infectious Disease Specialty Clinic at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, the Winston-Salem Journal reports. The number of new HIV cases among Hispanics in North Carolina has risen over the past five years, surpassing the incidence rate for the overall state population; however, many Hispanics avoid seeking treatment because of language barriers and the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS. Jim Augsburger, the HIV coordinator at the clinic, said that ACS is "making a big difference." The clinic, which draws patients from nearly one-third of the state's 100 counties, is currently treating about 56 Hispanic patients, and five others are on a waiting list. Augsburger estimated that as many as 30 of the patients were referred to the clinic by ACS. However, Augsburger said that the number of HIV-positive Hispanics that the clinic serves is only "the tip of the iceberg," pointing to federal estimates about the estimated percentage of HIV-positive Hispanics and the number of Hispanics living in the area, according to the Journal. Many undocumented HIV-positive Hispanic immigrants avoid treatment because they believe they will be turned in to the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services if they go to the clinic, according to the Journal. Augsburger said that no patients are ever reported to BCIS, adding, "I'm a nurse and my physicians provide care. ... Sick people need care, and we provide that." The clinic currently serves approximately 1,000 active patients who are on Medicaid or Medicare or who are uninsured (Winston-Salem Journal, 8/9).

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