Study To Look at Health Care System Trust Among Hispanics With HIVWake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in September will begin a two-year study to determine whether a lack of trust of the U.S. medical system is a factor behind a higher mortality rate among Hispanics with HIV/AIDS, the Winston-Salem Journal reports. Previous research has found that a number of factors -- including low incomes, a lack of health insurance and preventive care, and communication barriers -- affect Hispanics' health outcomes.
The new study, funded by the Foundation for AIDS Research, seeks to enroll 200 Hispanics and look at factors affecting the attitudes and opinions of the group about the health care system. Study participants either will be currently living with HIV/AIDS and receiving medical care or living with the virus without any medical care. Hispanics who do not have HIV but are at high risk for the virus based on their behavior also will be included in the study.
Hispanics represented 17%, whites 35% and blacks 45% of new HIV infections in 2006, according to data recently released by CDC. Hispanics' migration "may increase [their] risk behaviors due to factors such as loneliness, isolation, separation from partners, which can result in new partners, drug use and inadequate access to health care," Jennifer Ruth, a CDC spokesperson, said. She added, "Aggressively confronting the epidemic among Latinos is one of CDC's highest HIV prevention priorities. Prevention efforts must be designed to reach a multi-ethnic Latino population."
Scott Rhodes, the study's lead investigator and an associate professor in the Department of Social Sciences and Health Policy at the medical center, said Hispanics "generally" do not get tested for HIV "until they are very, very sick. And, once diagnosed, they don't take their medicine as prescribed, even when they have access to life-extending medicines."
Rhodes said the study will give researchers a "sense of all the variables that are affecting the trust or mistrust of medicine." He added, "From there, we can develop means to build trust and better communicate the value of medical treatment to Hispanics with HIV and preventive methods for those at risk of contracting HIV" (Craver, Winston-Salem Journal, 8/12). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.