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HealthHIV: Nearly 50% of Primary Care Providers Lack Knowledge About HIV Treatment

May 9, 2014

This article was reported by News-Medical.Net.

News-Medical.Net reported on HealthHIV's "Third Annual State of HIV Primary Care National Survey" report, performed in partnership with Medscape, LLC, to "assess the current state of integrating HIV care and treatment services into primary care." The researchers surveyed medical doctors, physician assistants, nurses, pharmacists, dentists, researchers, health administrators, social workers, case managers, and consumers.

According to the survey, many primary care physicians (PCPs) are treating more HIV-positive patients who are now covered under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). Forty percent of respondents complained that their areas of residence do not have enough providers treating HIV, and 50 percent of providers reported that their HIV caseloads have increased. Also, HIV PCPs worked mostly in urban or metropolitan areas and treated mostly underserved populations such as racial and ethnic minorities, homeless persons, and immigrants.

HealthHIV Executive Director Brain Hujdich stated that when the survey compared PPACA enrollment numbers with number of PCPs added, the results showed that while the need for healthcare increased through enrollment in healthcare plans, the supply of clinicians was decreasing, resulting in a shortage of 8,000 PCPs to treat the new enrollees. Approximately half (49 percent) of PCPs surveyed did not treat HIV patients due to a reported lack of knowledge of HIV treatment, and 48 percent expressed a need for more clinical training to include HIV care in their practice.

HIV patients may have other health problems that require care such as obesity, syphilis, cardiovascular disease, depression, and renal disease. As a result, HIV specialists are adding overall primary care. Other major barriers to quality care that HIV PCPs mentioned include retaining patients in care and providing substance abuse and mental health support. Providers also need more training on healthcare reform, particularly service delivery and reimbursement.

Hujdich explained that in response to the survey, HealthHIV has developed a five-point "Road Map HIV Primary Care Integration," which focuses on the following: "recruit HIV workforce; educate PCPs on HIV; treat the whole patient; collaborate with colleagues and consumers; and act on the PPACA."

The full report is available at www.healthhiv.org.

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