A person with HIV infection is confronted with questions about medical care that are as confusing as they are important. What kind of physicians treat HIV infection? What kind of medical care is available? What kind of hospital provides the best care? This chapter outlines the options for medical care available to a person with HIV infection and provides some general guidelines for people considering those options; provides a general guide to hospitals and describes the rights people have when they are patients in a hospital; and outlines the alternatives to hospitalization.
In general, medical care is provided by different kinds of people offering different services in different settings. The providers of medical care are professionals: they are physicians, physician’s assistants, and nurse practitioners. The setting in which care is provided can generally be divided into two components: outpatient facilities and inpatient facilities. Outpatient facilities are individual physicians’ offices, clinics staffed by physicians who practice as a group, Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs), and public health department clinics. Inpatient facilities, which are primarily hospitals and nursing homes, are generally used by people who need more intensive care.
In recent years, because hospital care in the United States is now enormously expensive, there has been a growing demand for alternatives to hospitals. These alternatives now include chronic care facilities (like nursing homes), home care programs, hospice care facilities and programs, and outpatient clinics. Some of the alternatives provide the services—including transfusions and other infusion services and same-day surgery—previously provided only in hospitals.
Financing for this complex network of resources varies: the principal modes of funding are Blue Cross/Blue Shield and other insurance companies, HMOs, self-pay, and the government programs for assistance with medical bills (Medicaid and Medicare). Chapter 10 will discuss how to finance medical care—since financing is obviously a major factor in deciding which option to choose.
Regardless of which option for medical care you choose, it is important to have:
—a close physician-patient relationship;
—the services of medical specialists as they are needed;
—the services of psychiatrists, psychologists, or support groups as they are needed;
—emergency medical services;
—a hospital with appropriate resources;
—such alternatives to hospital care as home therapy, chronic care facilities, and hospice care.
It is particularly important to have access to a physician or hospital or clinic that will provide the special medical resources and skills needed to treat people with HIV infection. The treatment of HIV infection is a fast-moving field: medical therapy now makes a substantial difference in the progress of the disease, and new treatments are continually being developed.
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This entry was posted on Friday, July 29th, 2011 at 2:38 pm and is filed under HIV. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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