Impact of Patient Race on Patient Experiences of Access and Communication in HIV Care

HIV care sites that serve a greater proportion of minorities are more difficult to access. Effective communication between providers and patients prevails at most HIV care sites, with African-American patients reporting more favorable experiences than whites.

Medical professionals generally recognize that non-whites experience worse care than white persons living with HIV/AIDS. This study employed face-to-face interviews with HIV-infected adults to investigate correlations between race/ethnicity and two aspects of the Institute of Medicine's concept of patient-centeredness: (1) access to care, (2) patient-provider communication.

Key Findings:

  • Differences at the community level (i.e., location of care and demographic distinctions) are more likely to account for disparities in patient access among the races than race/ethnicity itself.
  • Community infrastructure is crucial to the development of a more equitable health care system (as significant as clinical resources).
  • Previous low ratings of health care providers as less participatory by African-American patients might be misleading.

This study did not assess race correspondence between provider and patient (data was not gathered on providers). The data reflects only self-reported measures, not direct observation of patient-provider interaction. It is unknown what factors made an individual more or less likely to volunteer for the survey.