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AIDS Patient Care STDS. 2007;21 Suppl 1:S20-9.

"Getting me back on track": the role of outreach interventions in engaging and retaining people living with HIV/AIDS in medical care.

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Health and Disability Working Group, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts 02210, USA.


This qualitative study investigated the process of engagement in HIV medical care from the perspective of people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA). In-depth interviews were conducted with 76 participants in six cities. All participants were considered underserved because of histories of substance use, mental illness, incarceration, homelessness, or cultural barriers to the traditional health care system. A semistructured interview guide elicited narratives related to health care and the role of program interventions in facilitating access to care. Data analysis revealed that participants cycled in and out of care, a process that was influenced by (1) their level of acceptance of being diagnosed with HIV, (2) their ability to cope with substance use, mental illness, and stigma, (3) their health care provider relationships, (4) the presence of external support systems, and (5) their ability to overcome practical barriers to care. Outreach interventions played a role in connecting participants to care by dispelling myths and improving knowledge about HIV, facilitating access to HIV care and treatment, providing support, and reducing the barriers to care. The findings suggest that outreach programs can interrupt this cyclical process and foster sustained, regular HIV care for underserved PLWHA by conducting client-centered risk assessments to identify and reduce sources of instability and improve the quality of provider relationships; implementing strategies that promote healthy practices; creating a network of support services in the community; and supporting adherence through frequent follow-ups for medication and appointment keeping.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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