July 5, 2018 at 4:56 pm EDT | by Staff reports
CDC plans study on HIV and health care access
CDC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HIV infection rates, gay news, Washington Blade

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Photo by Daniel Mayer via Wikimedia Commons)

CHICAGO — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention wants to research whether gay and transgender people of color could receive better access to care and experience reduced HIV infection rates if they discuss insurance coverage with their providers earlier, Modern Health Care, an industry news service, reports.

The agency is seeking approval from the White House’s Office of Management and Budget to launch the study in Chicago, focusing on black and Hispanic males who have sex with men and transgender persons. The CDC will work with community partners to help people connect to coverage.

Gay men accounted for 81 percent of new HIV infections among males and 65 percent of all new HIV infections, according to the CDC. Researchers have also found HIV rates among black and Hispanic transgender women to be 56 percent and 16 percent, respectively.

The CDC wants to evaluate whether these individuals will experience better health outcomes if providers talk with them about coverage options during sexually transmitted disease testing. Currently, these conversations tend to take place after patients receive their test results, Modern Health Care reports.

The agency wants to determine whether the change will lead to more participants obtaining health insurance, experiencing better health by achieving viral suppression or remaining HIV-free and improve retention rates for HIV care including using medications known as pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, and other HIV-associated health services like mental health counseling and substance use treatment, the Modern Health Care article notes.

Research has shown that individuals who start antiretroviral therapy on the same day that they are diagnosed with HIV are more likely to be engaged in their care over the long term, according to Jeffrey Crowley, who served under President Barack Obama as director of the Office of National AIDS Policy and now oversees infectious disease initiatives at Georgetown University.

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