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HIV Testing Support/Information for Providers Critical

December 02, 2019
by Julie Parry

Michael Virata, MD, FACP, assistant professor of clinical medicine (infectious diseases) and director, HIV Clinical Services, treats HIV+ patients through the Haelen-Infectious Disease Center at Yale New Haven Hospital (YNHH). He promotes more routine HIV testing in several healthcare settings.  

“Testing is a key component and the first step in the HIV care cascade,” said Virata. “Testing helps identify undiagnosed HIV+ persons, which is estimated to be about 10-15% in the U.S. and about 8-10% in Connecticut. We need to do better.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), nearly 1.1 million people in the United States have HIV. 14 percent did not know they had the disease. In 2018, there were almost 1.7 million new cases of HIV worldwide. Internationally, 37.9 million people are currently living with HIV.

As part of the Yale New Haven Health (YNHHS) HIV Clinical Services Program, Virata and his team inform primary care providers across the health system and ask them to comply with the health screening standard that every individual from ages 16-65 have an HIV test performed at least once as part of their routine healthcare. Additionally, providers should encourage more screening if the person has factors that would put them at a higher risk.  

The program also partnered with the YNHH Emergency Department to roll out a new pilot project involving an order set that includes an HIV test with an electronic medical records template designed to decrease certain barriers to testing among high risk individuals seeking urgent care. Additionally, the team has joined forces with community based organizations across the region to improve linkage into the healthcare system by accepting referrals and engage patients into a rapid start treatment program.

Recently, he published a talk outlining an “Approach to HIV Testing for the General Population,” in conjunction with the Connecticut Infectious Disease Society. Watch the talk to learn more.

The Section of Infectious Diseases is one of the eleven sections within YSM’s Department of Internal Medicine. To learn more about their work, visit Infectious Diseases.

Submitted by Julie Parry on December 02, 2019