October 14, 2010
Assessing existing and potential trends in the HIV-positive population in Australia is important for current and future health care service development and delivery, the authors noted in their introduction.
The current study provided a new analysis of existing data on this population from the "HIV Futures 5" survey, which comprised responses from 982 HIV-positive Australians from all states and territories. The analysis involved a geographic breakdown of respondents based on area type -- capital city or inner suburban, outer suburban, regional center and rural -- with patterns of health care service access. The researchers also calculated the distance between the postcode of the respondent's residence and that of the doctor providing HIV services. They further conducted an analysis of area type by income and age.
In the area-type analysis, important differences were noted in patterns of access to antiretroviral prescriptions and choice of provider for HIV-related and general health care. Compared to those living in regional centers, those living in outer suburbs reported traveling a longer median distance to see a doctor for HIV-related care.
"Differences in service use appear to be related to geographic accessibility of different service types," the authors concluded. "However, there may be other important social, economic and cultural factors involved. Aging and socioeconomic pressures may be influencing a move away from inner suburban areas where most HIV-specific care is located. This new analysis assists in finding the right balance between increasing the accessibility of HIV-specific services and mainstreaming.' Longitudinal data collection would further assist in tracking trends in geographic location, and how often and at what intervals people living with HIV utilize health care services."