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HIV Increasingly Part of Primary Care
  MedPage Today
Published: May 14, 2010
More and more primary care providers are treating patients with HIV, according to a survey by the Washington-based advocacy group HealthHIV.
And both primary care providers and HIV specialists say they have seen an expanding caseload during the past year, the survey found.
The 1,165 survey respondents -- physicians from across the U.S. -- were asked to identify themselves as HIV specialists, primary care providers treating HIV patients, or primary care providers not treating HIV patients, a spokesman for HealthHIV told MedPage Today.
Of the primary care providers, 54% said they treat HIV patients and 55% said they believe primary care physicians are capable of providing a "medical home" to HIV-positive patients.
Of those who already care for HIV patients, 43% said their patient load had "increased" or "increased dramatically" over the past year. Indeed, 36% said they now see more than 200 HIV patients a year in their practice or organization.
Among the HIV specialists, 74% reported a higher HIV caseload, and 14% said it had "increased dramatically." In fact, 79% reported seeing more than 200 HIV patients a year.
Recommendations for routine HIV testing are likely, if implemented, to increase the number of people diagnosed with the virus. Among survey respondents, 65% of HIV primary care providers said it's either "extremely likely" or "very likely," that their practice or organization could accommodate more patients.
Another 29% said it would be "somewhat likely;" only 6% said it was "not at all likely."
However, the specialists also agreed by a wide margin -- three out of four -- that primary care practices can serve as a medical home for HIV-positive patients.
In the U.S., African Americans are disproportionately affected by the HIV pandemic -- something that is reflected in the racial and ethnic makeup of medical practices.
According to the HealthHIV survey, 65% of HIV specialists and 46% of HIV primary care providers said more than half their patients are people of color.
Interestingly, however, HIV specialists on average have a larger proportion of African-American patients than do the primary care providers -- 45% versus 26%. The same is true for Hispanic patients -- 22% versus 14%.
A full report on the findings is to be the subject of a presentation at July's International AIDS Conference Vienna, the HealthHIV spokesman said.
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