December 4, 2023

Doctors are concerned about the future care of HIV patients


HIV doctors in Berlin fear that there will be huge gaps in care in treating HIV patients over the next 15 years. This was the result of a survey conducted by the German Association of Outpatient Physicians for Infectious Diseases and HIV Medicine (then).

About 80 percent of those surveyed worry that a shortage of doctors and specialists could push back the structure of HIV care. Among respondents, 49% reported that they were over 55 years of age and would close their practice within the next 10 to 15 years, often without any prospect of a successor.

The reason behind the problem of young talent is, among other things, that there is often a struggle to finance important services, says Heiko Kärcher, member of the Dagn Management Board. This, especially among young doctors living with HIV, leads to the question of whether services can be provided at their current quality in the future.

Karcher also sees rural supplies at risk. If current HIV doctors cannot find a successor, there will soon be entire regions of the country without a single HIV practice. This means that there is no minimum and there is still an urgent need for access to life-sustaining medicines or preventive measures.

“We should expect that in ten years there will be far fewer HIV-focused practices than there are today, with consequences for the care of our patients,” Karcher said.

According to Dan, the structure of specialty practices is very important for the medical care of people with HIV. Thanks to comprehensive outpatient care, the interim target of 90-90-90 set by UNAIDS has been achieved. Accordingly, 90 percent know about their infection, 90 percent receive treatment, and in 90 percent of patients the virus is no longer detectable and transmissible due to care.

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Despite the successes, new HIV infections have stagnated to some extent. Karcher stressed that HIV remains a highly contagious and incurable infectious disease, with serious consequences for health. This result underscores the importance of effective HIV care, which we can provide throughout Germany through our outpatient HIV focus centres.

The Dagen Chairman called on politicians to create incentives for young doctors living with HIV in order to combat gaps in care before they appear. To achieve this, it is necessary to maintain current supply structures and compensate employees appropriately. He would like to see the new specialty title of infectious disease specialist integrated into outpatient care. This is the only way our successors will know where they stand, he said. © nfs/