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The new American Academy of HIV Medicine (AAHIVM) of Washington, DC, has established standards for clinicians who specialize in treating HIV/AIDS patients. To begin with, to be designated an HIV/AIDS specialist, a clinician needs to be state-licensed as a physician, nurse practitioner, physician assistant, or doctor of pharmacology.
The academy’s standards include the following:
1. The HIV/AIDS specialist must have clinically managed at least 20 HIV patients in the past two years.
2. The specialist must demonstrate continuous professional development in one of three ways:
• Physicians must have successfully completed the infectious disease board certification or maintenance of certification examination for the current year.
• Specialists must have completed annually at least 30 hours of HIV-related CME category 1 credits.
• Specialists must have completed annually at least 15 hours of HIV-related CME category 1 credits plus participated annually in an HIV Medicine Competency Maintenance Examination, as soon as it is available.
The AAHIVM’s qualifications statement says HIV/AIDS specialists who adhere to these guidelines can function as cost-effective primary HIV care providers in any health care delivery model, and they can recognize, diagnose, treat, and manage the medical complications of AIDS. As of March 2001, the AAHIVM has 1,000 members who care for more than 225,000 HIV patients. About 10% of the membership includes nurse practitioners and physician assistants.