Linking HIV-positive adolescents to care in 15 different clinics across the United States: Creating solutions to address structural barriers for linkage to care

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Amanda Elizabeth Tanner, Assistant Professor (Creator)
Institution
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/

Abstract: Linkage to care is a critical corollary to expanded HIV testing, but many adolescents are not successfully linked to care, in part due to fragmented care systems. Through a collaboration of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Adolescent Trials Network (ATN), a linkage to care outreach worker was provided to ATN clinics. Factors related to linkage were explored to better understand how to improve retention rates and health outcomes for HIV-positive adolescents. We conducted 124 interviews with staff at 15 Adolescent Trials Network clinics to better understand linkage to care processes, barriers, and facilitators. Content analysis was conducted focusing on structural barriers to care and potential solutions, specifically at the macro-, meso-, and micro-levels. Macro-level barriers included navigating health insurance policies, transportation to appointments, and ease of collecting and sharing client-level contact information between testing agencies, local health departments and clinics; meso-level barriers included lack of youth friendliness within clinic space and staff, and duplication of linkage services; micro-level barriers included adolescents' readiness for care and adolescent developmental capacity. Staff initiated solutions included providing transportation for appointments and funding clinic visits and tests with a range of grants and clinic funds while waiting for insurance approval. However, such solutions were often ad hoc and partial, using micro-level solutions to address macro-level barriers. Comprehensive initiatives to improve linkage to care are needed to address barriers to HIV-care for adolescents, whose unique developmental needs make accessing care particularly challenging. Matching the level of structural solution to the level of structural barriers (i.e., macro-level with macro-level), such as creating policy to address needed youth healthcare entitlements versus covering uninsured patients with clinic funds is imperative to achieving the goal of increasing linkage to care rates for newly diagnosed adolescents.

Additional Information

Publication
AIDS Care, 26:1, 12-19, DOI: 10.1080/09540121.2013.808730
Language: English
Date: 2014
Keywords
adolescents, HIV/AIDS, linkage to care, structural barriers, qualitative methods

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