Current literature suggests the number of HIV clinicians in the United States is diminishing. There are 294,834 primary care providers (PCP) in the United States, and, of these, 3101 provide care to HIV-positive patients. More PCPs to treat and manage HIV patients may be the solution to alleviate the HIV provider shortage. However, PCPs also face challenges, including workforce shortages. We surveyed PCPs to determine perceived barriers, beliefs, and attitudes about their readiness to manage and treat HIV patients.
Following a quantitative, descriptive, cross-sectional survey design, currently practicing clinicians in primary care (physicians, residents, physician assistants, family nurse practitioners) were emailed a link to the study survey. Three hundred forty-seven family medicine clinicians from 47 states met the study inclusion criteria.
Most (245/347, 70.6%) of the PCPs agreed that PCPs should take care of HIV patients. PCPs practicing HIV medicine (n = 171) were more likely than those not practicing HIV medicine (n = 176) to agree that PCPs should help with the HIV provider shortage (U = 10,384, p < 0.001) and that PCPs are the best solution to the HIV provider shortage (U = 10,294, p < 0.001). The majority (206, 59.4%) believed PCPs are the best solution for the HIV provider shortage. Of 133 physician assistants (PAs) and family nurse practitioners (NPs), seventy (52.6%) believed they could be ready to manage HIV patients with some training.
The HIV provider shortage in the United States is likely to continue. To alleviate the provider shortage, PCPs should be offered additional training, decreased workload, and increased compensation when treating and managing HIV patients. Also, encouraging PAs and family NPs to be involved with HIV medicine may be a solution.