New minority fellowships tackle shortage of physicians from hardest-hit communities

Toronto, CA, Oct. 12 -- The leading organization of HIV care providers has created clinical fellowships designed to encourage physicians from some of the most-affected communities to enter the field of HIV care. The HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA) Minority Clinical Fellowship Program will offer African American and Latino physicians the opportunity to gain clinical experience and expertise in HIV care.

The need for more minority physicians practicing HIV care is urgent. African Americans make up only 13 percent of the U.S. population but accounted for 49 percent of the AIDS diagnoses and 55 percent of the AIDS deaths in 2004, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Latinos represent 14 percent of the U.S. population but 20 percent of the AIDS cases. Many Latinos also struggle with language barriers and are the ethnic group most likely to be uninsured, further limiting their access to care.

"The number of African Americans and Latinos with HIV /AIDS continues to grow, but we have not seen a parallel increase of health care providers from those constituencies," said Arlene Bardeguez, MD, MPH, vice chair of the HIVMA Board of Directors. About 1,100 physicians from each group graduated from medical school in 2004, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. That's up from 704 African Americans and 473 Latinos in 1980, but still one tenth the number of white graduates.

"To make matters worse, very few physicians of any race or ethnicity are going into the field of HIV medicine," added Kimberly Y. Smith, MD, MPH, member of the HIVMA Minority Clinical Fellowship Committee. HIVMA and other organizations fear a crisis unless action is taken to train more providers in HIV care.

HIVMA Chair Daniel R. Kuritzkes, MD, added, "The Fellowships will train physicians from the African American and Latino communities--those hardest hit by the HIV/AIDS epidemic--who can bring their much-needed expertise and commitment to HIV-positive patients in their communities."

The Fellowships provide each recipient a stipend plus benefits for one year as well as financial support for the sponsoring institution and mentor. Applicants will work with HIVMA mentors at institutions where they will continuously manage HIV-positive inpatients and outpatients.

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HIVMA is delighted to have received support for the Fellowships from several pharmaceutical companies. HIVMA acknowledges the generous support of GlaxoSmithKline, Abbott Laboratories, and Gilead Sciences for this important new initiative.

HIVMA is the professional home for more than 3,400 physicians, scientists and other health care professionals dedicated to the field of HIV/AIDS. Nested within the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), HIVMA promotes quality in HIV care and advocates policies that ensure a comprehensive and humane response to the AIDS pandemic informed by science and social justice. IDSA is a professional society representing about 8,000 physicians and scientists who specialize in infectious diseases. For more information, visit our websites: www.hivma.org and www.idsociety.org.


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