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Increased Number of HIV-Positive MSM Being Tested Annually but Needs for Ancillary Services Going Unmet

SEP 29, 2016 | KRISTI ROSA
However, despite these promising data on HIV testing, information included in a second report published in the MMWR indicates that many needs are not being met in MSM who have been diagnosed with HIV and are receiving outpatient medical care. In this report, the CDC utilized data provided by the Medical Monitoring Project (MMP) as a way to measure not only how many needs remain unmet by MSM, but also, what the needs are and why they remain unmet.
These needs pertain to what the CDC refers to as ‘ancillary services’, which are “services that support retention in HIV medical care and assist with day-to-day living.” According to the report, the populations that reported the most unmet needs were MSM who were “non-Hispanic black and Hispanic/Latino.” The most prevalent needs pertained to services that were “for non-HIV medical care,” such as dental care (23%) and eye/vision care (19%). These ancillary services are particularly important for those diagnosed with HIV because many individuals who are infected develop a number of conditions that impair their oral faculties or their sight, such as candidiasis and Kaposi’s sarcoma. Those individuals with these conditions need additional medical care.
Among the other unmet needs reported were the needs for: mental health care (6%), an HIV support group (8%), food/nutrition services (12%), assistance pertaining to transportation (7%), and shelter/housing (7%). The researchers added that these services can influence adherence to treatment.
When assessing the reasons why these needs remained unmet, the MSM cited the following reasons: a lack of knowledge on how to acquire the services they needed; inability to afford what they needed; issues with health insurance; or they were told they were “ineligible for, perceived themselves to be ineligible for, or were denied these services.”
Currently, there are different programs and goals set by the CDC to reduce the number of unmet needs in HIV-positive individuals, among them are the National HIV/AIDS Strategy goal and The Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program. Increased access to these ancillary services may result in a better health outcome for those living with HIV, a virus that once acquired, is with the individual for life.
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