image of “It’s Like a Phantom Disease”: Patient Perspectives on Access to Treatment for Chagas Disease in the United States
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645


Chagas disease (CD) affects > 6 million people globally, including > 300,000 in the United States. Although early detection and etiological treatment prevents chronic complications from CD, < 1% of U.S. cases have been diagnosed and treated. This study explores access to etiological treatment from the perspective of patients with CD. In semi-structured interviews with 50 Latin American–born patients of the Center of Excellence for Chagas Disease at the Olive View–UCLA Medical Center, we collected demographic information and asked patients about their experiences managing the disease and accessing treatment. Patients were highly marginalized, with 63.4% living below the U.S. poverty line, 60% lacking a high school education, and 70% relying on Medicaid or similar local programs. The main barriers to accessing health care for CD were lack of providers, precarious insurance coverage, low provider awareness, transportation difficulties, and limited time off. Increasing access to diagnosis and treatment will not only require a dramatic increase in provider and public education but also development of programs which are financially, linguistically, politically, and geographically accessible to patients.

[open-access] This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


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  • Published online : 29 Jan 2018
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