Denial, Care Access Difficulties Hampering Idaho HIV/AIDS Treatment
Community denial that HIV/AIDS could be a problem in the region and long distances between patients and specialized care are hampering HIV/AIDS treatment efforts in Idaho, the Associated Press reports. Dr. John Osborn, the chair of the HIV/AIDS program at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Spokane, Wash., told a symposium of 100 doctors and health care professionals from the western United States that the "culture in Idaho is not conducive to dealing with AIDS and HIV" because many in the state "have trouble reconciling their small-town values with the possibility that the epidemic might be in their midst." Dr. S.R. Blue, director of HIV services at Boise's Family Practice Medical Center, said that a lack of specialists in the area is also an "obstacl[e]" to HIV/AIDS care. However, the state, which receives $1.8 million in federal money and $253,000 in state funds for HIV/AIDS prevention and care, has developed "important methods" for increasing awareness and access to care, he said. Some specialists are travelling to the state's rural areas to provide care, while other specialists are "networking" with local family physicians. Dr. Martha Tanner, an infectious disease specialist from Idaho Falls, "stressed" that more pregnant women need to be screened for HIV, as testing in her area found a "cluster" of HIV-positive women who were subsequently treated and did not transmit the virus to their fetuses. Idaho currently has 510 HIV and 245 AIDS cases, and 367 people in the state have died of AIDS-related complications since it became a notifiable disease in 1986 (Associated Press, 8/21).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.