Online Program

With new eyes: Using telemedicine to dissolve the structural barriers to HIV/AIDS care in the rural southeastern United States

Monday, November 4, 2013 : 9:15 a.m. - 9:30 a.m.

Sandra Percival, Medical AIDS Outreach of Alabama, Inc., Montgomery, AL
Issues: The battle line of America's continuing fight against HIV runs through the South. However, despite the South's disproportionate disease burden, the region exhibits shockingly anemic treatment resources (e.g., only 1 AAHIVM-credentialed physician for every 1,607,341 Alabamians).

The challenge, therefore, reduces to: effectively delivering care within an exceedingly fragile care-delivery structure. Funded by AIDS United, our intervention addresses this challenge by using technology to bridge the gap between "need" and "resources" - leveraging urban-based HIV expertise through telemedicine, effectively providing rural communities with access to high quality HIV care, at the speed of light.

Description: Focusing on consumers living in disproportionately-impacted, under-resourced, rural locations, we created eight telemedical treatment centers throughout Alabama. Using encrypted connections, rural-site RN support, and high-definition diagnostic tools, our providers are able to hold real-time encounters frequently and consistently, increasing both access to care and the fullness of care available.

Lessons Learned: We discovered that our consumers, regardless of age, education, or rurality, are willing to embrace technology for the sake of complete care. We were reminded that endemic HIV-related stigma continues to hinder progress in the South. Ultimately, we learned that telemedicine works to connect those in need with the care that they deserve.

Recommendations: While point-to-point, provider-to-consumer telemedical encounters work to create access in previously unreachable communities, the transformative potential of our telemedical network lies in its ability to operate as a didactic tool – a tool by which we can organically grow treatment expertise among local providers scattered across rural Alabama.

Learning Areas:

Advocacy for health and health education
Chronic disease management and prevention
Diversity and culture
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Provision of health care to the public

Learning Objectives:
Discuss the efficacy of telemedicine as a novel treatment intervention designed to reduce the structural barriers to care faced by consumers living with HIV/AIDS throughout under-resourced, rural America.

Keyword(s): Access to Care, HIV/AIDS

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the principal on multiple federally funded grants, including a public/private partnership grant, through the Corporation for National and Community Service, and a recently awarded grant funded by the CDC, in partnership with the Alabama Department of Public Health. Both of these grants focus on MAO's "Access to Care: Telemedicine" effort, for which I have served as Director since project inception in 2011, and about which I hope to present at APHA 2013.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.