September 13, 2019 04:45 pm News Staff – On Sept. 3, the CDC released a suite of communication tools and resources designed to support efforts to prevent HIV infection and help keep people infected with the virus healthy.
The tools also support the work of the proposed HHS initiative, Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America.
In a "Dear Colleague" letter announcing the agency's action, Eugene McCray, M.D., director of the HIV/AIDS Prevention Division at the CDC's National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention, said the CDC's role in the initiative includes collaborating with other HHS agencies, local and state governments, communities, and people with HIV infection to coordinate efforts to expand key HIV strategies.
"While communities will develop plans based on their own needs, they will focus on four key strategies: diagnose, treat, prevent and respond," McCray said in the letter. "The resources unveiled today can assist communities in each of these four key areas."
It's worth noting that the AAFP also has recently updated its HIV-related recommendations and supporting resources.
In his letter, McCray said the Let's Stop HIV Together campaign "empowers communities, partners on the ground and health care providers to reduce stigma among all Americans, prevent HIV among the hardest-hit populations and help people with HIV stay healthy."
One resource that could be particularly valuable to family physicians is a new HIV Nexus webpage that offers a credible source of information physicians can use to keep up on the latest HIV recommendations and research.
HIV Nexus also supports clinicians in communicating with patients and caregivers about HIV prevention, screening and treatment, the letter noted.
An HIV prevention services locator widget lets users search for key preventive services (HIV testing, preexposure prophylaxis, post-exposure prophylaxis and condoms) near them by entering their ZIP code.
In addition, a new CDC HIV homepage guides visitors to content specific to clinicians, public health partners and consumers. And later this month, the agency plans to launch its updated and redesigned HIV Risk Reduction Tool to deliver "comprehensive, accurate and timely information about HIV, its risk factors and ways to prevent HIV transmission and acquisition." According to the letter, users will be able to tailor the tool's content based on gender, gender of sex partners and HIV status.
"The resources released today will equip communities, health care providers and partners with the tools, information and resources needed to support their vital work," McCray said. "We encourage you to share these resources with your colleagues, and we look forward to continuing our collaboration to end the HIV epidemic in America."
Interestingly, the AAFP recently updated its HIV screening recommendation, which no longer differs from that of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force in the recommended age for screening onset.
The Academy now recommends that clinicians screen adolescents and adults ages 15-65 for HIV infection. Younger adolescents and older adults who are at increased risk should also be screened.
"The evidence base for the new recommendation for HIV screening for adults is solid," the AAFP's recommendation notes. "However, the prevalence of HIV infection and rate of new infection are very low among individuals who are 13-14 and 15-17 years old.
"Although HIV testing has excellent sensitivity and specificity, the false-positive rate will be higher in these populations. The benefits of detecting HIV in a low-risk 15-17-year-old versus detecting the infection in the same adolescent at age 18 (are) unknown, but this detection may reduce further infections."
The AAFP also agrees with the USPSTF that clinicians should screen all pregnant patients, including those who present in labor or at delivery, whose HIV status is unknown.
Additionally, the Academy supports the task force's recommendation that clinicians offer PrEP with effective antiretroviral therapy to patients at high risk for HIV infection.
The AAFP has signaled that support by updating various resources to incorporate information on PrEP, including its policy on prevention and management of sexually transmitted infections and its position paper "Incarceration and Health: A Family Medicine Perspective."
Related AAFP News Coverage
USPSTF: Screen for HIV in Patients Ages 15-65
Prescribe PrEP for Patients at High Risk for HIV Infection
More From AAFP
American Family Physician: AFP By Topic: HIV/AIDS