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Iowa: Care on the Road -- Some AIDS Patients Go Out of Town for Treatment

October 1, 2002

Not all Dubuquers who have AIDS are comfortable sharing that information with their neighbors. Connie Sprimont, case manager for the Dubuque Regional AIDS Coalition at Mercy Medical Center-Dubuque, said she has a caseload of 11 patients. But she knows there are at least that many more who live in Dubuque but who go out of town for treatment for fear of recrimination. In her three years on the job, Sprimont's caseload has been as high as 18. Today it includes a woman who contracted HIV from a former boyfriend, and a man in the advanced stages of AIDS. Many of the infected people have lived elsewhere and come home to be with their families.

Sprimont said many local HIV/AIDS patients go out of town for treatment in Iowa City, Chicago or Madison, Wis. Many do not want to get their prescriptions filled locally, fearing someone might find out. "I work closely with the case manager in Iowa City," Sprimont said. "While she can't share the numbers with me, she says there are a lot of Dubuquers who go there."

Sprimont believes that AIDS patients who are gay feel less likely to be discriminated against for their sexual orientation than for their illness. Ironically, if those patients received services closer to home, the Dubuque AIDS office would get more funding, because funding is based on the number of cases and their financial assessment. The AIDS coalition offers free, confidential testing. By state law, it cannot be anonymous.

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Excerpted from:
Telegraph Herald (Dubuque, Iowa)
09.23.02; Sandye Voight

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