Chapel Hill, NC – With the South at the center of the U.S. HIV/AIDS epidemic, and North Carolina being no exception (1,563 North Carolinians diagnosed in 2011), the need to connect patients with proper care was of the upmost importance. When proper treatment is provided, patients have a normal life expectancy and are much less likely to spread the virus, but an estimated 24 percent of HIV-positive individuals living in North Carolina were not receiving medical treatment for their HIV. A new statewide call center hopes to bridge that gap by connecting people diagnosed with HIV to the medical care that they need.
The Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine has partnered with the Communicable Disease Branch of North Carolina’s Division of Public Health to launch ONE CALL, a toll-free HIV call center staffed by specially trained nurses who can provide patients and non-specialist providers with referral to HIV care and support services across North Carolina.
“Very often the person who provides the positive HIV result is not the same person who provides treatment,” said Dr. Cindy Gay, an assistant professor of medicine at UNC who heads the ONE CALL program. That health care provider may have little or no experience treating HIV or in counseling someone who is newly diagnosed. “Our hope is that ONE CALL will put both providers and patients at ease and make getting into care easier,” Dr. Gay said.
Previous research has shown that when the medical provider who gives the positive test result also helps schedule the first appointment, the patient is much more likely to enter care.
“Health care providers have a critical role to play, and ONE CALL is here to help them just as much as the patients,” said program coordinator Christine Carcano. “Providers can direct their patients to ONE CALL, and the nurse on the other end of the line will ensure that the patient’s initial concerns are addressed.”
The ONE CALL center free service center will provide the following: Continue>