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Housing And Health Officials Hope To Improve Integration Of HIV Care In Hartford

Gary Ruhle, Hartford's health director.

Hartford has received a federal grant aimed at improving health outcomes for HIV/AIDS patients in the city.

About $300,000 will be used for upgrades to the data systems that coordinate housing and clinical programs for roughly 1,000 HIV/AIDS patients.

"Currently, what really kind of happens is the systems are siloed," said Gary Rhule, Hartford's health director. "You have case managers and housing navigators on the housing side. You have case managers and the medical provider on the health side -- and the data systems, essentially do not talk to each other."

Rhule said the grant will help the systems do that, better coordinating care and improving health outcomes for HIV/AIDS patients who may be homeless or unstably housed.

"If folks feel like they have no place to live -- that then becomes the priority, and then health care becomes a secondary issue," said Rhule. "But once folks have a stable house, they know where they're sheltered - they know where their meals are coming from, then health care can then be addressed."

The hope is to boost care retention rates -- and increase rates of viral suppression.

Funding comes from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Other recipients include HIV/AIDS programs in Missouri, Florida, Oregon, and Hawaii.

WNPR's Opioid Addiction Crisis Reporting Initiative is supported by Hartford HealthCare Behavioral Health Network's MATCH Program.

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