Treating HIV through telehealth
A comprehensive, telehealth-based approach to HIV treatment can help your patients with HIV live longer, healthier lives.
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Antiretroviral therapy (ART)
During telehealth appointments, signing off on multi-month antiretroviral therapy (ART) prescription refills ensures patients have short- and long-term access to the drugs they need and can sustain viral suppression.
Medication adherence is especially important during the first weeks of therapy, and current HIV treatment guidelines recommend telehealth as an approach to support medication adherence then and during all phases of treatment.
If your patient struggles with access to ART, the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program’s AIDS Drug Assistance Program provides FDA-approved medications to low-income people living with HIV who have limited or no health coverage from private insurance, Medicaid, or Medicare.
Current HIV treatment guidelines recommend that most people with HIV undergo lab testing to measure viral load and CD4 levels every six months. While these tests cannot be completed virtually, you can use telehealth to order tests and coordinate appointments with your patients.
Many clinical laboratories (PDF) have integrated telehealth into their practice. If there is a lab that you work with regularly, contact them to coordinate online appointment scheduling.
An effective telehealth HIV treatment program requires more than medication adherence. Patients need to be supported in a variety of ways.
During telementoring sessions, primary care providers collaborate with a multidisciplinary specialists around individual patient cases, a format known as case-based learning.
These live videoconference sessions serve patients by training primary care physicians on the necessary skills to provide HIV care and helping manage the complexities often associated with HIV care, including tailoring treatment to high-risk populations. Studies show improved clinical outcomes among people with HIV, including adherence to ART, when clinicians with HIV experience and training through telementoring provide care.
Create a telementoring program
If your practice is based in a rural or underserved area, you may benefit from partnering with a larger health center for telementoring.
Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) is a framework designed to provide community-based primary care providers with knowledge and support to telementor patients with complex conditions, like HIV.
Tips for designing an inclusive interprofessional ECHO (PDF) — from the American Academy of Pediatrics
Project ECHO — from University of New Mexico
UT Health San Antonio
UT Health San Antonio, part of the University of Texas (UT) System, serves patients across South Texas through more than 100 affiliated hospitals, clinics, and health care facilities. The healthcare system’s TACKLE HIV/ Hepatitis C (HCV) program, or Targeted Access to Community Knowledge, Linkage to treatment, and Education for HIV/HCV in people of color is supported by HRSA’s Curing Hepatitis C among People of Color Living with HIV initiative.