US: Primary care is key for containing the next wave in HIV infections

Primary care is the next frontier when it comes to managing HIV care.

Sebastian Ruhs, MD, PhD, director of Chase Brexton Health Care’s Infectious Diseases Center of Excellence in Baltimore, Maryland, said he is witnessing an uptick in HIV cases among young, healthy adults, and said primary care—not specialty practices—is the place these patients will turn for advice, testing and treatment. “There is a big movement to get primary care more and more integrated into the care of HIV-positive patients, but also in the preventive aspect and diagnosing more cases,” Ruhs told Medical Economics.

Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends annual screening for high-risk individuals, many HIV diagnoses are delayed because they don’t seek HIV-specific care or have healthcare provider who takes note of their high-risk behaviors, said Ruhs.

“Testing people who are at risk on a regular basis is important,” he said. “Everyone with HIV who is walking around with a high viral load is at high risk for infecting other people.”

HIV/AIDS has seen a resurgence among Baltimore youth, with new infections among 13- to 29-year-olds increasing from 14% in 2000 to 39% in 2015. These new infections occur in high-risk groups including young MSMs and ethnic minorities.

“Those are the ones we need to focus on in the next couple of years,” Ruhs said, with the caveat that these are not the types of individuals he can usually reach in the specialty care center.  Read more via Medical Economics