May #91 : Treat and Run - by Carmen Retzlaff

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Table of Contents

Children of a Lesser God

Virgin With A Vengeance

Liver and Let Live

Submission: Impossible

Now They C It

Drug Trade

Insecurity Council

Lady Buggers

Latest Battles On Latex

Knock, Knock


Leap of Faith

Sunshine Therapy

AIDS Lyrics

Love Songs

It Takes Tube

Pot Shot

Show Us the Money

It Happened in May

Guru Gere“Gotcha??

Take This Mug and Stuff It

The Rub

Big Easy

Doctor Shocker!

Warts and All

On Your Feet

Brains, Not Beauty

Math Hysteria

Main Squeeze


Treat and Run

Double Agent

Unhappy Together

A Fish Called Tuna

Risk and Tell

Tell and Risk


Editor's Letter

Star Billings

Most Popular Lessons

The HIV Life Cycle


Herpes Simplex Virus

Syphilis & Neurosyphilis

Treatments for Opportunistic Infections (OIs)

What is AIDS & HIV?

Hepatitis & HIV

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May 2003

Treat and Run

by Carmen Retzlaff

José ignored his “smoker’s cough” for months before biting the bullet, getting tested and diagnosed with active tuberculosis (TB) and HIV. He went to Allison Nist, MD, locally famous in South Florida for caring for migrant farmworkers like José, and started on meds. But when he said he had to move to Tennessee to pick tobacco—his family in Guatemala needed money—she balked. “We persuaded him to stay to finish his six months of TB treatment first,” Nist says. Then she sent him off with his records and a month’s worth of the HIV meds that had won him back his weight and energy.

Nist is clinical director of HIV, hepatitis, STD and TB Programs for the Collier County Health Department in Naples, Florida, where stories like José’s abound: “We provide housing and food so patients can complete TB therapy. Otherwise, they’d have to move on in search of work.”

Federally funded migrant clinics such as Nist’s serve only a fraction of the millions who follow seasonal farmwork from sea to shining shore. Of course, HIV makes their lives that much harder, partly because ADAP and Medicaid coverage vary by state, and farmworkers “often don’t know from one day to the next when or where they’ll be moving.” Plus, some workers from Mexico, Haiti and Central America are illegal and lack documents, so they often don’t qualify—or are too wary of officials to ask. Still, Nist says, migrant farmworkers should try these tips:

Find a clinic. The National Center for Farmworker Health (800.377.9968) or the National Migrant Education Hotline (800.451.8058) can steer workers to care near their next job.

Keep a health file. Always get copies of your records, and take them—and all meds in the original bottles—to the next clinic.

Ask Doc to make a call. The Migrant Clinicians Network (512.327.0719;; e-mail helps MDs figure out which programs provide which meds.  

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