This patient engagement project will work to overcome the barriers that cause missed healthcare appointments by HIV patients in the (very large) inland region of Southern California. The project hopes to achieve excellent viral control, which will result in less illness, death, and transmission of HIV. Appointments with clinics, labs, pharmacies, support groups, mental health practitioners, financial/insurance workers, case managers, and substance abuse services are all important links in the chain of care. Support was the unanimous topic choice of many patients during our two focus groups.
Therefore, we will focus on this comparative effectiveness research question to compare two types of evidence-based support: Which is more effective in lowering HIV community viral load—a system of navigators or a system of frequent contact? Challenges to support are considerable in this large, geographically and culturally diverse area, with scarce public transportation and very limited public or charity services due to cutbacks in the recent economic downturn.
Our project brings together a governing council of patients, stakeholders, and researchers who have demonstrated commitment, experience, and expertise in the area of missed appointments by HIV patients and in solution ideas. We have met monthly for two years to develop the project, learning about pertinent research methods and developing collaborations with major researchers in this field. The goal now is to develop a high-quality research proposal to improve meaningful outcomes for appointment attendance by HIV patients.