American Academy of HIV Medicine Backs New Legislation Providing Loan Repayment for Health Professionals Providing HIV Care

American Academy of HIV Medicine Backs New Legislation Providing Loan Repayment for Health Professionals Providing HIV Care

WASHINGTON, DC:  The American Academy of HIV Medicine today offered support for the newly introduced HIV Epidemic Loan-Repayment Program (HELP) Act. The bill, introduced by Congressman John Lewis (D-GA), would offer up to $250,000 in loan repayment over five years to physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and dentists for providing HIV care and treatment-related services.  The health professionals must be practicing in an area with a recognized provider shortage or within a Ryan White funded clinical site.

The bill was introduced to address the critical shortage of clinicians and allied health professionals required to meet the needs of a growing population of people living with HIV.

“Our patient population is growing, but the number of medical professionals specializing in HIV care is not keeping pace,” says Academy Executive Director Bruce Packett. “Many of the clinicians who entered the field in the 80s to help combat the once deadly epidemic are retiring. Attracting new providers into HIV care is difficult when there is no financial incentive unlike in many other specialty areas.”

The Academy has been actively working for many years on bringing greater visibility to the provider shortage. In a 2008 survey, the Academy found that one third of its members plan to retire within the next 10 years.

“As the Administration rolls out its Ending the HIV Epidemic plans, we anticipate finding more people living with or at risk for HIV that will need care and prevention. At this crucial time, any substantial efforts to increase the number of providers in HIV care, treatment, and prevention will be welcomed,” stated Dr. Margaret Hoffman-Terry, the Academy’s Board Chair. “We commend Congressman Lewis for introducing this important legislation as we celebrate National Black AIDS Awareness Day and hope that we can encourage more providers to enter the field, especially providers that demographically mirror the epidemic and understand the needs of their patents.”

In August 2016, the Academy was the first to publish the long-awaited Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) workforce study in its quarterly magazine, HIV Specialist. The study concluded that “the Nation faces severe workforce capacity challenges to effectively treat people living with HIV/AIDS. The demand for HIV and primary health care services, in particular, continues to increase as treating people living with HIV becomes more complicated and new cases arise.”

“Since the HRSA report, we have seen the situation grow even more dire as a result of the uptick in cases in underserved areas,” continued Packett. “This bill provides incentive to retain and attract medical talent to this ever-evolving clinical community. Our Academy members and HIV credentialed providers successfully treat the vast majority of people living with HIV, allowing them to lead long, healthy lives. We have the clinical tools to manage and prevent the spread of HIV. We are at the cusp of ending the epidemic, but we can’t do it without providers in the needed areas.”

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About the American Academy of HIV Medicine: The American Academy of HIV Medicine is the nation’s leading independent organization of healthcare professionals dedicated to providing excellence in HIV care and prevention. Our membership of practitioners and credentialed providers manage the health of the majority of people with and at risk for HIV in the United States. The Academy’s mission is to ensure health care professionals have the resources needed to provide prevention, treatment and care for those living with or at risk for HIV and related conditions to achieve optimal health.