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AIDS Patient Care STDS. 2009 Sep;23(9):785-92. doi: 10.1089/apc.2009.0032.

Health-related beliefs and decisions about accessing HIV medical care among HIV-infected persons who are not receiving care.

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  • 1Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1600 Clifton Road NE, Atlanta, GA 30333, USA.


In the United States, the publically supported national HIV medical care system is designed to provide HIV medical care to those who would otherwise not receive such care. Nevertheless, many HIV-infected persons are not receiving medical care. Limited information is available from HIV-infected persons not currently in care about the reasons they are not receiving care. From November 2006 to February 2007, we conducted five focus groups at community-based organizations and health departments in five U.S. cities to elicit qualitative information about barriers to entering HIV care. The 37 participants were mostly male (n = 29), over the age of 30 (n = 34), and all but one had not received HIV medical care in the previous 6 months. The focus group discussions revealed health belief-related barriers that have often been overlooked by studies of access to care. Three key themes emerged: avoidance and disbelief of HIV serostatus, conceptions of illness and appropriate health care, and negative experiences with, and distrust of, health care. Our findings point to the potentially important influence of these health-related beliefs on individual decisions about whether to access HIV medical care. We also discuss the implications of these beliefs for provider-patient communication, and suggest that providers frame their communications with patients such that they are attentive to the issues identified by our respondents, to better engage patients as partners in the treatment process.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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