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UPMC Health Center Launches HIV Primary Care, Training Program

PITTSBURGH, Nov. 25, 2014 – HIV/AIDS treatment will be integrated into primary care delivery at the UPMC Latterman Family Health Center in McKeesport, thanks to a four-year, $1.13 million federal grant. The center also will use the funds to provide HIV/AIDS health-care training to its family medicine residents, the next generation of HIV primary care physicians.
The announcement comes ahead of World AIDS Day on Dec. 1, when people worldwide show their support for those living with HIV and commemorate those who have died.
“HIV has become more of a chronic illness in the United States, especially with the availability of effective, well-tolerated combination therapy,” said Deborah McMahon, M.D., medical director of the Pittsburgh AIDS Center for Treatment (PACT), which is staffed by UPMC physicians and will be implementing the training. “So it’s increasingly important that treatment of patients with HIV be integrated into primary-care settings, much like other chronic conditions, such as high cholesterol or diabetes.”
PACT is one of 15 sites nationwide receiving similar grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration. The money is part of a large research project to determine ways to improve HIV/AIDS care in areas disconnected from the health services of urban centers.
The new HIV/AIDS primary care program at UPMC Latterman Family Health Center will involve a system known as “SETT,” which stands for:
  • Screen: Test all patients between 18 and 64 for HIV.
  • Engage: Use a multidisciplinary team to provide comprehensive HIV treatment in a nonjudgmental environment.
  • Treat: Make sure all staff have the skills necessary to care for HIV patients.
  • Train: Teach residents HIV care skills so they can properly treat patients in their future careers.
Demand for HIV care continues to increase as the number of HIV specialists decreases and more individuals are living near-normal life spans when HIV infections are appropriately treated.  This project will serve as a model for other family medicine residency programs to address a growing shortage of HIV specialists.
“You have to take at least two busses to get to the PACT clinic in Oakland from McKeesport, which is a real barrier to care,” said Tracey Conti, M.D., program director for the UPMC McKeesport Family Medicine Residency Program. “This grant will allow us to provide state-of-the-art HIV/AIDS services locally to anyone diagnosed with HIV, in a welcoming, comfortable environment.”
A multidisciplinary team approach to care is core to UPMC Latterman Family Health Center’s patient treatment process, making it an ideal place to integrate HIV/AIDs care, said Bethany Blackburn, M.B.A., administrative director of Infectious Diseases at UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside.
“For example, a pharmacist will manage prescriptions to ensure that there aren’t any drug interactions; a social worker will help patients navigate medical coverage, and a psychiatrist will be available to address any mental health issues,” Ms. Blackburn said. “These are all critical components in treating any chronic disease, including HIV.”
PACT receives federal funds to care for all HIV infected people regardless of their ability to pay for care through the Ryan White Care Act.

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