Rural AIDS Patients Need Local ‘Specialized’ Care
Marvin Lindsay, a Presbyterian pastor in Salisbury, N.C., writes in a Charlotte Observer commentary that if author Wendell Berry was correct when he wrote that "health means wholeness" -- not "just the sense of completeness in ourselves but also is the sense of belonging to others and to our place ... an unconscious awareness of community, of having in common" -- then "AIDS ... represents a unique threat to good health." Lindsay writes that as the virus "destroy[s]" the body, the associated stigma of the disease can "alienate the patient from his/her community." He says that "[f]ortunately," some physicians believe that "health means wholeness." One such doctor is Joseph Jemsek, a Huntersville infectious disease specialist who has established a clinic for HIV patients that also employs a minister and a nutritionist to "nuture the patient's relationships with his [or] her Maker and environment." However, Lindsay writes, such doctors are rare and most HIV-positive individuals, many of whom are poor, must travel great distances to find such care because specialized clinics "don't like to see patients for run-of-the-mill colds and flu." In addition, many general practitioners are "reluctant to see HIV-positive patients, period" according to Eva Eddings, a service coordinator for Caring For Families, a program in Rowan County, N.C., serving HIV-positive women and children. Lindsay concludes that if Berry is correct, until places like Rowan get specialized care, "good health is only a remote possibility" for HIV-positive patients because "they can have their bodies treated, but only in estrangement from their communities" (Lindsay, Charlotte Observer, 1/23).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.