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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update

AIDS Service Steps Up Efforts to Help Hispanics


Winston-Salem Journal (08.09.03) - Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Martha Chica works for AIDS Care Service in Winston-Salem, N.C., to find HIV-positive Hispanics and persuade them to accept medical help and support. It's been an uphill battle, she said. HIV still carries stigma in much of the Hispanic community, and the language barrier makes it more difficult for ACS to reach out to the people who need help. The rate of infection for Hispanics is higher than the statewide average.

"What I found is that it is hard to identify the individuals who are positive because they don't come forth," said Chica. "They are so timid and scared. They only come forth when they are close to death." Chica has started going out more in the community to educate people about HIV/AIDS, working from an office in the Central Terrace Methodist Church. A newly hired assistant helps her.

Chica meets about one or two new patients a month, many of whom are referred for medical care to the Infectious Disease Specialty Clinic at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. The ACS program is making a big difference, said Jim Ausburger, the HIV coordinator at the clinic.

The clinic draws from an area of about 30 counties. Workers have a caseload of 56 Hispanic patients, with about five on a waiting list to be seen when more space opens up, Ausburger said. As many as 30 of those patients came to the clinic in the past year because of the ACS program, he said.

Some Hispanic people worry that their care will not be confidential or that they will be turned over to Immigration and Naturalization Services if they go to the clinic. Ausburger said that never happens. "I'm a nurse and my physicians provide care. We don't work for the INS. Sick people need care, and we provide that," he said.


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