Despite the hardships brought by COVID-19, HIV/Infectious Disease (ID) specialist income held relatively steady in 2020 versus 2019. Because HIV/ID specialists do not perform the same type of revenue-generating procedures as other specialties, generally treat lower-income populations, and often accept Medicare-level payments, relative income levels remained at the lower end of the specialist compensation scale. Overall, while some HIV/ID specialists still struggle to recover, many others believe their worst business days are now behind them.

The “Medscape Infectious Diseases Physician Compensation Report 2021” details several key findings as they relate to HIV/ID physician practice income levels in 2020:

  • A large majority (83%) of HIV/ID specialists who saw a drop in income cited COVID-19-related issues like job loss, fewer hours, and fewer patients.
  • Slightly more than one-half (55%) believe their income levels won’t return to normal for another 2-3 years.
  • HIV/ID specialists spent more time on average this year—24.2 hour, versus 18.5 hours from the previous year—on medical-related work outside of patient visits, including time devoted to paperwork, EHR documentation, administrative and managerial work, participation in professional organizations, and clinical reading. This ranked first among the more than 29 specialties surveyed.

The report also detailed several positives, including:

  • Average HIV/ID specialist incomes levels were about the same in 2020 at $245,000, as they were in 2019, at $246,000.
  • One-quarter, or 25%, of HIV/ID specialists who suffered financial- or practice-related ill effects due to the pandemic expect their income to return to normal in 2021.
  • HIV/ID specialists are seeing an average increase of 17% in patient visits, from 66 per week the previous survey year to 78 per week in the current survey year. This uptick contrasts to many other specialties that saw a decline in patient visits.
  • A large majority of HIV/ID specialists (83%) would pick medicine again, a somewhat greater percentage than that of physicians overall, at 78%. HIV/ID specialists ranked highly (eighth) against more than 29 specialists surveyed in this area.

All 17,903 respondents across more than 29 specialties were required to be currently practicing in the United States to be eligible to complete the 10-minute online survey. Of the pool of respondents, 61% identified as male and 36% as female.