Katrina Displaces 8,000 HIV-Positive People; AIDS Groups, Drug Companies, Federal Officials Working To Continue Care
Federal officials, drug companies and AIDS organizations are working to provide care to the nearly 8,000 HIV-positive people displaced two weeks ago by Hurricane Katrina, the AP/Miami Herald reports. In the aftermath of the hurricane, health providers in Florida, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and other states are reporting that displaced HIV/AIDS patients are arriving at their clinics seeking new prescriptions and medical care. In response to the need, several AIDS service organizations from the affected area have partnered with clinics in other cities to provide temporary housing and medication for HIV-positive patients. According to Nicholos Bellos, president of the Dallas-based Southwestern Infectious Disease Associates, HIV/AIDS patients have complex medical histories that are often well-documented at their clinics. "Not many of these people had a chance to go by and pick up their medical records on the way out of town," he said, adding, "One of our biggest problems, right off the bat, is just documenting their HIV-positive status." In addition, HIV-positive patients can develop drug resistance if they miss doses of their medication, making the virus more difficult to treat. Federal officials have said they are working to streamline care to HIV-positive patients after the hurricane destroyed the Biloxi, Miss., and New Orleans service centers of the Health Resources and Services Administration -- an HHS agency that provides health care funding for people living with HIV -- and left the centers in Hattiesburg, Miss., and Mobile, Ala., flooded and without power. Several drug companies also have offered to provide medication to patients at no cost (Mendoza, AP/Miami Herald, 9/12).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.