The increasing impact of human immunodeficiency virus infections, sexually transmitted diseases, and viral hepatitis in Durham County, North Carolina: a call for coordinated and integrated services.
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BACKGROUND: Durham County, North Carolina, faces high rates of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection (with or without progression to AIDS) and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). We explored the use of health care services and the prevalence of coinfections, among HIV-infected residents, and we recorded community perspectives on HIV-related issues. METHODS: We evaluated data on diagnostic codes, outpatient visits, and hospitalizations for individuals with HIV infection, STDs, and/or hepatitis B or C who visited Duke University Hospital System (DUHS). Viral loads for HIV-infected patients receiving care were estimated for 2009. We conducted geospatial mapping to determine disease trends and used focus groups and key informant interviews to identify barriers and solutions to improving testing and care. RESULTS: We identified substantial increases in HIV/STDs in the southern regions of the county. During the 5-year period, 1,291 adults with HIV infection, 4,245 with STDs, and 2,182 with hepatitis B or C were evaluated at DUHS. Among HIV-infected persons, 13.9% and 21.8% were coinfected with an STD or hepatitis B or C, respectively. In 2009, 65.7% of HIV-infected persons receiving care had undetectable viral loads. Barriers to testing included stigma, fear, and denial of risk, while treatment barriers included costs, transportation, and low medical literacy. LIMITATIONS: Data for health care utilization and HIV load were available from different periods. Focus groups were conducted among a convenience sample, but they represented a diverse population. CONCLUSIONS: Durham County has experienced an increase in the number of HIV-infected persons in the county, and coinfections with STDs and hepatitis B or C are common. Multiple barriers to testing/treatment exist in the community. Coordinated care models are needed to improve access to HIV care and to reduce testing and treatment barriers.
Geographic Information Systems
Health Services Accessibility
Hepatitis, Viral, Human
Patient Acceptance of Health Care
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
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Associate Research Professor of Global Health
Rae Jean Proeschold-Bell is interested in the interplay between mental and physical well-being and has designed and tested interventions that integrate care for people with obesity and depression; HIV/AIDS and substance use; and hepatitis C and alcohol use. Most recently, Rae Jean has been studying positive mental health as a way to prevent depression and promote caring for one's physical health. Her work currently focuses on caregivers, including clergy in North Carolina and ca