White House HIV/AIDs Strategy Calls on Providers for Action

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media , July 13, 2010

President Obama's administration Tuesday called for renewed and aggressive national attention to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS saying that "Unless we take bold actions, we face a new era of rising infections, greater challenges in serving people living with HIV, and higher health care costs."

In a 60-page national strategy report the administration called on providers to do more to make sure patients get appropriate care.

While the report focuses a great deal on education and prevention efforts in communities, it also calls for providers to:

  • Establish a seamless system to immediately link patients to continuous and coordinated quality care when they learn they are infected with HIV.
  • Take deliberate steps to increase the number and diversity of available providers of clinical care and related services for people living with HIV.
  • Increase the coordination of HIV programs across the Federal government and between federal agencies and state, territorial, tribal, and local governments.

The strategy report cautions that the provider workforce of "health professionals (who) special¬ize in HIV care is aging, and new recruits are needed to address the workforce shortage.

"According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, nearly one fourth (24.7%) of the active physician workforce in the United States was age 60 or older in 2008."

The report says that for those specializing in infectious disease, "the problem of limited physician supply is more pronounced. The Affordable Care Act and its investments in the National Health Service Corps will help to alleviate primary care workforce short¬ages in underserved areas, but it is also necessary to encourage more health care providers, including nonphysician providers, to obtain specialized HIV training and include people living with HIV in their practices."

The executive summary said: "Our Nation is at a crossroads. We have the knowledge and tools needed to slow the spread of HIV infection and improve the health of people living with HIV. Despite this potential, however, the public's sense of urgency associated with combating the epidemic appears to be declining."

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