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Clinic Targets Kentucky HIV/AIDS

Contact: Amanda White

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The BCC will commemorate World AIDS Day on Monday, Dec. 1, by hosting an open house from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., on the second floor of Kentucky Clinic. Booths staffed by area service providers will offer information about services for those living with HIV and AIDS. Free, confidential HIV testing will be available. For more information about World AIDS Day, the BCC open house, or other World AIDS Day events occurring in Lexington, contact Janet Fox at (859) 323-4792 or by e-mail at jefox2@uky.edu.

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 21, 2003) -- The University of Kentucky Bluegrass Care Clinic (BCC) has received a $150,000 two-year capacity building grant from the Health Resource Services Administration (HRSA) to increase HIV awareness among targeted groups that are less likely to seek diagnosis and treatment for the infection.

The Bluegrass Care Clinic, serving over 750 patients since 1997, is the largest of only five HIV primary care providers in a 63-county area comprising Central, Eastern and Southeastern Kentucky. The BCC is dedicated to the treatment of adults living with HIV/AIDS. Because the Bluegrass Care Clinic is subsidized with funding under Title III of the Ryan White CARE Act, it is able to offer services free, or at greatly reduced costs to adults living with HIV/AIDS within UK’s 63 county service area.

“ In this region, the Bluegrass Care Clinic acts as the only safety net for HIV primary care and the only academic medical center of excellence for HIV primary care,” said Alice Thornton, M.D., assistant professor of medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, UK College of Medicine, and project director for the BCC.

Those targeted under the capacity building grant are communities of color and people living in underserved, rural Eastern Kentucky.

African Americans comprise only 4.2 percent of the BCC service area population, but represent more than 18 percent of the BCC’s patient population. African American women in the area are 14 times more likely than white women to be diagnosed with AIDS. In 1997, the BCC had one Hispanic HIV patient and currently Hispanics make up over 7 percent of the clinic’s patient population.

Approximately 40 percent of BCC patients live in rural counties that are medically
underserved. Only one of the 53 rural counties in the BCC service area offers HIV primary care services. Of all 63 counties in the service area, including Fayette, 42 have a shortage of general primary care services for low-income residents. Of these counties, 48 are Appalachian and federally designated as “economically distressed.”

Based on national prevalence data and the patient populations of regional providers, it is estimated that more than half of the persons living with HIV/AIDS in the BCC service area are not in care.

“With this grant, we want to devise ways to reach people who have been diagnosed as HIV positive, but are not in care,” Thornton said. “Especially, we want to target those in populations that statistically are less likely to be in treatment.”

“The lack of outreach to target populations is part of the reason why 66 percent of our patients have advanced disease progression by the time they come to us,” Thornton said. “We believe that people live longer with early treatment and are better able to start medications after the disease progresses to AIDS if they already have been receiving care.”

Another initiative at UK is the Kentucky AIDS Education Training Center (KY-AETC). Ardis Hoven, M.D., professor of medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, UK College of Medicine, and BCC Medical Director, serves as the KY-AETC project director. The purpose of KY-AETC is to educate health care providers throughout Kentucky to recognize and care for those at risk for HIV/AIDS. A phone line for physicians to call with questions about the disease has been established.

“By reaching the health care providers in communities where patients are less likely to seek diagnosis or treatment, we can help them reach out to patients who need care,” Hoven said.


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