States That Spend More On Social Services Have Lower AIDS Deaths

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Kristina Marie Talbert-Slagle, PhD Lecturer in Epidemiology (Microbial Diseases) and in Public Health (Health Policy); Senior Scientific Officer, Yale Global Health Leadership Institute Yale School of Public Health

Dr. Talbert-Slagle

Kristina Marie Talbert-Slagle, PhD
Lecturer in Epidemiology (Microbial Diseases) and in Public Health (Health Policy); Senior Scientific Officer, Yale Global Health Leadership Institute
Yale School of Public Health

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Talbert-Slagle: The interest for this study originally came as a result of work done by Elizabeth Bradley, PhD, co-author of The American Health Care Paradox.  In the book, Dr. Bradley compared spending rates of social services to health care services between the U.S. and other countries and found that while the U.S. invested more money in health care services than any other country we had worse health outcomes.  By contrast, countries that spent more on social services per dollar spent on health care had better outcomes.

We applied that same idea to AIDS.  There are still more than 50,000 cases of HIV/AIDS diagnosed in the U.S. each year.  Although many medical advances have been made in treatment and prevention of this infection, we were curious as to why rates of HIV/AIDS have remained stagnate.  We wanted to explore how spending relates to differences in case rates among the states and found a significant difference among states regarding social service and public health spending related to HIV/AIDS.  We looked at all 50 states’ spending habits over the past 10 years and discovered that states that invested more money in social services such as education, housing, and nutrition per person in poverty had significantly lower rates of HIV/AIDS deaths.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Talbert-Slagle: Clinicians deal with helping HIV/AIDS patients every day, and if having more access to social services that would help patients get to doctor’s appointments, or get to the pharmacy to refill a prescription, or even complete higher levels of education, which may help them better understand prevention methods, this would help patient care and treatment immensely.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Talbert-Slagle: I think drilling down even farther to see how states could perhaps better assign funds allocated to social and medical services based on this preliminary research could help guide policy and spending patterns within states for more effective health care.  

Medical Research: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Dr. Talbert-Slagle: Twenty percent of HIV/AIDS cases still go undiagnosed in the United States.   People do not know they are infected and the risk of this group progressing towards AIDS remains high.  Therefore, we want to use this information to better guide spending to areas such as education and other social services to make it more accessible for people to get early diagnosis and treatment.

Citation:

State variation in HIV/AIDS health outcomes: the effect of spending on social services and public health.

Talbert-Slagle KM, Canavan ME, Rogan EM, Curry LA, Bradley EH.
AIDS. 2016 Feb 20;30(4):657-63. doi: 10.1097/QAD.0000000000000978.
PMID: 26605512

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Kristina Marie Talbert-Slagle, PhD (2015). States That Spend More On Social Services Have Lower AIDS Deaths

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