Primary Care of HIV Patients Increasing in Importance

July 8, 2011
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Much has been written of late regarding the intial media presentations of the virus that causes AIDS and the de rigueur comparisons to how far awareness, activism, and innovation have propelled its discussion to every corner of the planet in 2011. Its chilling descriptions more than thirty years ago cannot belie the fact that, in spite of advances, there is still much to be done on the road to eradication and cure.

Much has been written of late regarding the intial media presentations of the virus that causes AIDS and the de rigueur comparisons to how far awareness, activism, and innovation have propelled its discussion to every corner of the planet in 2011. Its chilling descriptions more than thirty years ago cannot belie the fact that, in spite of advances, there is still much to be done on the road to eradication and cure. Within this paradigm is the notion that an entire generation or two have witnessed how the existence of HIV/AIDS has shaped healthcare policy in this country and worldwide.

Here in the U.S., the specter of the aging patient with this now “manageable chronic disease”, the numbers of patients this will represent, and the availability of physicians knowledgeable enough to not only treat chronic HIV disease but also its unknown effects in the increasingly “geriatric” patient — are gaining consideration and acknowledgement in policy circles. Discussion almost always leads to the role of the primary care physician in not only screening but also becoming an active treatment provider.

In 2009, a record 82.9 million American adults were tested for HIV. […] By 2015, the IOM estimates that half of Americans living with HIV/AIDS will be older than 50. For primary care doctors, this means a growing number of their patients will need care for chronic diseases as well as HIV.

Today’s generation of physicians has inhereted the mantle of providing care for a disease whose spurred innovations ranks as one of the greatest medical achievements of the last century. It is time to consider the primary care approach to chronic HIV disease as another fundamental skill set as reform redefines healthcare delivery in the 21st century. | LINK

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