Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2015

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)

Department

Public Health

First Advisor

Richard Rothenberg

Second Advisor

Jamila Ealey

Third Advisor

Monica Swahn

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Adolescents aged 13-24 account for a substantial number of new HIV infections every year in the United States. Timely linkage to care and continuous engagement is very imperative for effective medical interventions and overall improved health outcomes for HIV positive young adults. This thesis addresses and evaluates the factors affecting linkage to and retention in care for the newly diagnosed HIV positive adolescents in Georgia in 2013 and potential solutions to address the disparities.

METHODS: The analysis assessed quantitative and qualitative data extracted from Georgia’s HIV Surveillance-Electronic HIV/AIDS Reporting System (eHARS), Grady Infectious Disease Program (IDP), Ryan White CAREWare, and Georgia HIV Testing Data System. The data analysis was carried out using MS Excel and SAS 9.4. A univariate analysis was used by cross tabulating variables such as linked to care, any care, retention in care, and stratified by race/ethnicity, age, and risk factors. Inferential data was obtained from narrative reports of de-identified client-level from the Anti-Retroviral Treatment Access to Services (ARTAS) Intervention. Descriptive statistics analysis and logistic regression were performed using SAS version 9.4 with significance set at p<0.05.

RESULTS: Of the total 2,555 newly diagnosed HIV infected persons in Georgia in 2013, 601 were adolescents aged 13-24 years old. In comparison to other age groups, adolescents had the second highest newly diagnosed rate. Of the HIV infected adolescents, only 58% were linked to care and 47% were retained in care. HIV infection was found prominently among Black MSM populations.

CONCLUSION: The results of this study indicated differences in factors and barriers that are associated with HIV positive adolescents and linkage to medical care and retention in medical care provide evidence for developing public health interventions. Public health intervention programs that address sex education, effect of IV drug use, and the importance of health insurance may help curb the prevalence of both HIV and sexually transmitted diseases in at-risk groups.

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