HHS Secretary Donna E. Shalala today announced the start of the first 800-number service which provides federally approved treatment information by phone or computer for people living with HIV/AIDS and health care professionals.
Secretary Shalala said, "As of today, HIV/AIDS patients and those caring for them can call ATIS, the AIDS Treatment Information Service at 1-800-HIV-0440 and speak to a trained health information expert about up-to-date HIV/AIDS treatments."
Interim national AIDS policy coordinator Patsy Fleming said, "ATIS represents the kind of innovative, coordinated effort among government agencies -- working together to provide a service that does not fall under the mandate of any individual agency -- that is vital to meeting the continuing challenges of AIDS."
Philip R. Lee, M.D., HHS assistant secretary for health and director of the U.S. Public Health Service, said, "In addition to assisting health care providers, the AIDS Treatment Information Service will help people living with HIV/AIDS extend and improve the quality of their lives by helping them make informed decisions about their health care with their providers."
Surgeon General M. Joycelyn Elders, M.D., speaking in Atlanta at the National Skills-Building Conference for community based organizations, sponsored by the National Minority AIDS Council, the National Association of People with AIDS and the AIDS National Interfaith Network, said, "Community-based organizations and AIDS service organizations all over America need to help get the work out about ATIS. It provides an invaluable additional resource to people living with HIV/AIDS."
The Public Health Service National AIDS Program Office has coordinated development of the service. Six PHS agencies have contributed to its formation and will be funding its operation. These agencies are the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Indian Health Service, the Health Resources and Services Administration, the National Institutes of Health and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Project officers from each of the participating PHS agencies will be responsible for oversight of the program.
Representatives from AIDS communities across the country have also participated in designing the service.
The database for ATIS, which is housed at the National Library of Medicine, part of NIH, will be continually updated to include all federally approved HIV/AIDS treatment information. The data can be accessed for free via computer.
ATIS also can provide access to other, related PHS information services, including: the CDC National AIDS Hotline, providing basic HIV/AIDS information; the CDC National AIDS Clearinghouse, providing HIV/AIDS print and video materials; the AIDS Clinical Trials Information Service, providing information on clinical trials for treatments for HIV/AIDS and associated opportunistic infections; the HRSA-sponsored Warmline, which provides HIV/AIDS treatment information to physicians only; the SAMHSA National Drug Information, Treatment and Referral Hotline, which provides information on drug treatment and community resources; and the SAMHSA National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information, which provides information on alcohol and drug abuse treatment and prevention.
ATIS staff will not provide treatment advice, but will provide information and advise patients that they need to discuss their treatment options with their physicians.
The service is staffed by highly trained health information specialists who are fluent in English and Spanish. Deaf access (TDD) in included. The service is provided Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. EST. All calls are completely confidential.