University of Illinois at Chicago Office of Public Affairs (MC 288)
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July 21, 1999 Contact: Jeffron Boynés (312) 413-8702, Jboynes@uic.edu
UIC TARGETS AIDS EPIDEMIC IN AFRICAN-AMERICAN COMMUNITIES
New hope for AIDS patients in Chicago's underserved neighborhoods
Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago unveiled a new community-based strategy to give minority service providers greater access to the latest medical advances in dealing with African-American AIDS patients.
Introduced by the Midwest AIDS Training and Education Center (MATEC) at UIC, the plan is aimed at halting the alarming spread of HIV/AIDS in Chicago's African-American communities where access to medical care is often hampered by insufficient funding and resources.
Although the incidence of AIDS-related deaths in the United States has substantially declined, not all segments of the population have shared equally in improvements in care and treatment of the HIV virus. HIV/AIDS continues to be the leading cause of death for African Americans aged 35-44. In 1997, more than two-thirds of all diagnosed AIDS cases were among African Americans.
"With input from community leaders and HIV-positive advocates, we realized the need for greater access to treatment within the African-American community, and brainstormed about ways to make that happen for people in need," said Nathan Linsk, principal investigator for MATEC and primary author of the plan.
By introducing the new public health approach, "Chicago is now uniquely poised to address access to care and treatment concerns for our HIV-positive African-American citizens," he said.
Linsk said the prescription for providing earlier and increased access to treatment for African Americans with AIDS involved creating two separate training components: the MATEC Fellows Program and the African-American Clinicians Group, which are both modeled after existing MATEC programs.
Under the MATEC Fellows Program, five to six physicians from the city's underserved communities will work with MATEC's expert staff for one year to receive tailored HIV/AIDS training and support services. The rigid training, Linsk said, is aimed at enhancing the physician's ability to treat HIV/AIDS cases, drawing on conventional as well as the latest treatments and therapies.
For a full year, the physicians, or "fellows," will receive scholarships to attend physician and multidisciplinary training, clinical management seminars and special conferences. Each fellow will also be placed with an experienced clinician for on-site mentoring at one of MATEC's clinical affiliate sites, and will be linked to expert providers for consultation on a range of HIV interventions during and after their fellowship year.
In addition to the fellows program, MATEC also announced the formation of the African-American Clinicians Group. Launched in cooperation with the Cook County Physicians Association, the Black Nurses Association, and the Chicago Department of Public Health, the African-American Clinicians Group will meet quarterly to address HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment priorities specific to the African-American community.
According to Dr.William McDade, president of the Cook County Physicians Association, the goal of the group is to provide a forum for clinicians (independent of the fellows program) to discuss challenges to their practices, receive up-to-the-minute information on topics ranging from medications to nutrition, and encourage resource-sharing across disciplines and communities.
"In caring for persons with HIV-infection, there are numerous guidelines and standards of care for clinical treatment," said McDade. "The African-American Clinicians Group will certainly address these standards, and we also hope to network with each other and identify new resources within the community to help improve our effectiveness in treating the virus."
Creasie Finney Hairston, dean of UIC's Jane Addams College of Social Work, which houses MATEC, noted that UIC's commitment to Chicago communities was the main impetus behind announcing the new HIV treatment strategy.
"The MATEC strategy is an excellent illustration of the mission of the Jane Addams College of Social Work - to be actively engaged and at work in the communities we serve," she said.
One of several centers located at the Jane Addams College of Social Work at UIC, the Midwest AIDS Training and Education Center at UIC is a federally funded center providing AIDS and HIV training to health care and social service professionals. As an established regional training center serving six states, it now offers training for more than 1,500 professionals each year.
With 25,000 students, the University of Illinois at Chicago is the largest and most diverse university in the Chicago area. UIC is home to the largest medical school in the United States and is one of the 88 leading research universities in the country. Located just west of Chicago's Loop, UIC is a vital part of the educational, technological and cultural fabric of the area.
(Note to editors: For background, visit the MATEC website at http//www.uic.edu/depts/matec)
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