According to the World Health Organization, since the beginning of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, more than 70 million people have been infected with the virus and about 35 million people have died as a result.
The ID and HIV researchers and clinicians who chose to treat and investigate HIV/AIDS and its complications in the early years are credited for saving countless lives along with helping to develop groundbreaking therapeutic and medical care. Today, many people living with HIV are living longer healthier lives, but only 49 percent of people with HIV in care are receiving treatment consistently and effectively enough to control their viruses and prevent transmission
Sadly, the progress that has been made in HIV/AIDS care is at risk not only by the current increasing rate of number people being affected – BUT also due to the decreasing number of physicians who specialize in HIV care.
While incidence rates have gone down, according to the World Health Organization an estimated 1.8 million individuals worldwide became infected with HIV in 2016 – that’s about 5,000 new infections per day. In the U.S., more than 1.1 million people are living with HIV today, but 1 in 7 of them don’t know it. Southern states bear the greatest burden of HIV, accounting for nearly 50 percent of new infections in 2014. Gay and bisexual African American young men particularly, are most affected.
The need for skilled HIV specialists to treat these patients is underscored by the fact that by 2019, the patient demand for HIV care will outpace the number of new specialists entering the field. Building a strong pipeline is critical as these health care professionals are the drivers of scientific discoveries, the leaders of public health programs throughout the world, and the astute clinicians on the front lines providing life-saving care.
Fighting Stigmas, Strengthening Communities
Our goal is to end the spread of HIV by maximizing therapeutic and preventive efforts. We are also committed to helping 100 percent of patients living with HIV become virally suppressed. We know through our Clinical Fellowship Program we are one step closer to achieving these transformative goals.
The HIVMA Clinical Fellowship Program provides non-ID trained physicians with the most updated best practices for treating patients living with HIV/AIDS. Each year our program provides grants to fellows at institutions that predominantly serve communities of color. Funds are used to support a year of dedicated HIV clinical training for a non-infectious disease trained physician interested in pursuing a career in HIV medicine. In addition to management of antiretroviral therapy, clinical training also includes treating common co-infections and comorbidities such as hepatitis C, mental health, substance use disorder and multi-disciplinary team patient management.
During the training year, fellows manage the care of a minimum of 30 patients with HIV infection under the supervision of an HIVMA member mentor. To date, the physicians trained through the Clinical Fellowship Program have remained in HIV medicine and primarily work in clinics with a focus on underserved patient populations.