"Although we have come a long way in the fight against HIV and AIDS, there are more than a million Americans who are currently living with HIV and an estimated 640,000* people with HIV who, for a myriad of reasons, are either undiagnosed, not in medical care or not receiving HIV treatment," said Kandy Ferree, president and CEO of The National AIDS Fund in Washington, D.C. "This is a unique example of how the business and community sectors can work side by side to better understand and tackle this important issue."
Bristol-Myers Squibb commissioned a national survey over the past year to better understand the barriers to HIV testing, care and treatment. The survey concluded that there are significant personal, societal and structural barriers that prevent people from taking action. "It's sad, but true that in 2009, stigma still plays a huge role in preventing people from getting tested and into care," said Ms. Ferree. "We are proud to work in collaboration with Bristol-Myers Squibb to help break down these barriers by creating a targeted initiative that supports collaborative and highly coordinated, community-based efforts to reduce barriers and provide the supportive services people living with HIV/AIDS need to effectively access health care."
The survey also revealed that some health care providers may underestimate the role that personal and societal barriers play in preventing people from seeking care or treatment. For instance, respondents were asked the reasons why people living with HIV were not receiving HIV care or treatment. Health care professionals, including physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, case managers, peer educators/counselors and mental health professionals/social workers, who participated in the survey viewed substance abuse issues, patients struggling financially and basic needs more strongly versus people living with HIV or AIDS. On the other hand, those diagnosed with HIV and not under medical care viewed fear of HIV medication side effects as the number one reason why they were not under care or on treatment; denial of needing treatment or care because they did not feel sick and HIV stigma followed. These findings will be discussed with health care providers and the professional community to encourage better alignment and communication with people living with HIV.
"These findings illustrate the continued need to address the key personal and societal barriers like stigma, fear and denial, as well as structural barriers such as the health care system capacity, lack of transportation and housing. In other words, we need to view the needs of the whole person, not just treat the disease," said Ms. Ferree. "World AIDS Day is an opportunity for us all to remember that there are a lot of people with HIV/AIDS right here in the U.S. who can't access medical care and we believe both the business and community sectors must work together to address these issues head on and ensure all people living with HIV/AIDS get the care they need."
"We know this work is complex, but we are committed to success. This collaboration with the National AIDS Fund is intended to further our commitment to the fight against HIV/AIDS," said Jill DeSimone, senior vice president, U.S. Virology, Bristol-Myers Squibb. "Over the last 20 years, Bristol-Myers Squibb has been on the forefront of innovation and this collaboration is another example of how we as an organization are committed to making a difference in the lives of people living with or at risk for HIV/AIDS."
About the National Survey
The findings are the result of a national survey, conducted by a third party, of patients and health care professionals. Bristol-Myers Squibb commissioned a large quantitative survey of patients and health care professionals, including patients who were not being treated for HIV/AIDS and were diagnosed and under care, diagnosed and not under care, or at risk for HIV and health care professionals including physicians, nurse practitioners/physician assistants and allied health care professionals such as case managers, peer educators/counselors or mental health professionals/social workers. Interviews were conducted over the phone, online or in person and lasted approximately 30-45 minutes.
According to the survey, health care professionals were more likely to view substance abuse issues (66%) and patients struggling financially and basic needs (64%) as reasons why people living with HIV were not receiving HIV care or treatment. On the other hand, those diagnosed with HIV and not under medical care selected fear of HIV medication side effects as the number one reason they were not under care or on treatment (73%); denial of needing treatment or care because they did not feel sick (66%) and HIV stigma (60%) followed.
About the "Positive Charge" Initiative
"Positive Charge" is an outreach initiative designed to support programs customized to meet the unique needs of individuals living with HIV, and is dedicated to working with health care providers, community members, advocates, caregivers and families of people living with HIV/AIDS in order to assist them in overcoming the barriers that may be preventing them from getting the HIV care, treatment and support they need.
"Positive Charge" is also designed to make meaningful contributions to the scientific exchange and policy and advocacy dialogues to the benefit of people living with HIV/AIDS.
About the National AIDS Fund
The National AIDS Fund is one of the leading philanthropic organizations committed to ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the U.S. The mission of NAF is to reduce the incidence and impact of HIV/AIDS in the U.S. by promoting leadership and generating resources for effective community responses. The NAF promotes collaborative local planning and provides grants and technical support to hundreds of direct service and advocacy organizations annually. Through our community-based grant making program over the past 20 years, we have collaborated with our affiliated Community Partnerships to direct over $160 million to support critical services, capacity building and advocacy.
About Bristol-Myers Squibb
Bristol-Myers Squibb is a global biopharmaceutical company committed to discovering, developing and delivering innovative medicines that help patients prevail over serious diseases. For more information, please visit www.bms.com.
* Based on Bristol-Myers Squibb Market Research Estimate, June 2009.