The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)—infected patients on initial presentation to primary medical care may have extensive problems relating to medical, substance abuse, psychiatric, and social issues. We examined a model for the initiation of primary medical care for patients infected with HIV at a public hospital and presented the clinical, educational, and research benefits associated with such a clinic.
Eight hundred forty-five consecutive HIV-infected outpatients without primary care, who presented to a municipal hospital HIV intake clinic, the Diagnostic Evaluation Unit, between February 1,1990 and August 31, 1993, received a multidisciplinary assessment and a facilitated access to medical services. The performance of standardized initial clinical evaluation and adherence to primary care referral were examined.
During the most recent study year, more than 90% of patients presenting to the clinic completed the intake process and 95% were seen at the site to which they were referred for primary medical care. Tests for CD4 lymphocytes, syphilis, hepatitis B, and tuberculosis were obtained, pneumococcal vaccinations were administered, and social service assessments were performed in 92% to 98% of patients completing the intake. The clinical setting was a site for involvement in research protocols and provided a focused educational experience concerning outpatient HIV management for medical students and residents.
Establishment of a clinic dedicated to the initial evaluation of HIV-infected persons in a municipal hospital successfully evaluated and linked patients to primary care providers. The clinic structure enabled the standardized performance of appropriate laboratory tests and vaccinations and provided unique educational and research opportunities. We encourage other health care settings to consider the development of similar models for the initiation of medical care for persons infected with HIV.(Arch Intern Med. 1995;155:1629-1633)