Medical AIDS Outreach of Alabama (MAO), formerly Montgomery AIDS Outreach, Inc., was originally founded in 1987 as a volunteer-based HIV services organization. Today, MAO provides free HIV testing, comprehensive primary healthcare for those living with HIV, and HIV/AIDS education, referral, and support services. The agency serves 26 counties, with physical locations in Montgomery and Dothan, and satellite clinics in Selma, Greenville, Troy, and Clayton.
In June 2011, MAO secured a federal grant through AIDS United, by way of the Social Innovation Fund's Access to Care initiative, a project striving to improve rural access to health care. As most of our service area is both rural and medially underserved, MAO received a $300,000/year match-funding grant to help achieve this goal. People living at or near the poverty line in the rural southeast United States lack access to many services, including affordable treatment of chronic disease. People living with HIV, who are without access to anti-retroviral therapy are living 48 years shorter than those who have access to and the ability to pay for the drugs they need to stay alive.
According to the US Census Bureau, sixty of Alabama’s sixty-seven counties (i.e.~90%) are medically underserved, roughly 1 in every 5 Alabamians live below the federal poverty line. Services to treat, educate, or prevent diseases like HIV/AIDS are a scarcity to those who are completely without public health services or means to access primary health care.
Because of our extensive record of medical care in rural areas of the state, MAO has been awarded a grant from AIDS United in Washington, D.C. to establish a state-wide telemedicine (eHealth) network. This project, which expands access to health care throughout 47 counties in Alabama, will be accomplished by using three provider hubs in Montgomery, Tuscaloosa, and Huntsville, and nine rural eHealth centers. Through Alabama eHealth, MAO is working to change the standard of rural health care, and make high-quality HIV primary care an accessable, preferrential option for the poor in rural Alabama.
Through Alabama eHealth and MAO's participating partners, we can make a very tangible difference in the lives of rural Alabamians. By use of telemedicine, a two-way telecommunication device, rural patients who are in desperate need of care need not travel outside of their community to connect with an HIV specialist. Rather, they can be connected with a physician, in real time, through fast-streaming video-chat technology. Our high-definition cameras, flat screen monitors, and secure, high-speed internet connections allow patients to reach out to the finest medical minds in our network from their community.
This is the only project of its kind in the United States, and our grantors in Washington, D.C. have stated that Alabama will serve as a model for the establishment of this network across the country. The overarching goal with Alabama eHealth is to use telemedicine equipment not only for HIV/AIDS care, but for pharmaceutical consultations and mental health counseling as well. This project presents an extraordinary opportunity to pioneer the future of health care delivery.
In order to continue our success, MAO needs your help. Alabama eHealth is utilizing grant funds, which allowed us to implement this project on July 1, 2011, and open the first three of our rural eHealth centers in Selma, Sipsey, and Florence. Our ability to match the grant at 100% or $300,000 each year for three years will enable us to open centers in Dothan, York, Greenville, Troy, Clayton and Albertville. Your support is invaluable and crucial to our success in bringing high quality health care to rural Alabama.