First Clinical Consultation Service Announced

Date: March 4, 1993
Source: Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)

HHS Secretary Donna E. Shalala today announced the first nationwide clinical consultation telephone service for doctors and other health care professionals who have questions about providing care to people with HIV infection or AIDS.

The toll-free National HIV Telephone Consulting Service is staffed by a physician, a nurse practitioner and a pharmacist. It provides information on drugs, clinical trials and the latest treatment methods. The service is funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration and operates out of San Francisco General Hospital.

Secretary Shalala said, "One goal of this project is to share expertise so patients get the best care. A second goal is to get more primary health care providers involved in care for people with HIV or AIDS, which reduces treatment cost by allowing patients to remain with their medical providers and community social support networks. Currently, many providers refer patients with HIV or AIDS to specialists or other providers who have more experience."

Secretary Shalala said, "This clinical expertise should be especially helpful for physicians and providers who treat people with HIV or AIDS in communities and clinical sites where HIV expertise is not readily available."

The telephone number for health care professionals is 1-800-933-3413, and it is accessible from 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST (7:30 a.m. to 5p.m. PST) Monday through Friday. During these times, consultants will try to answer questions immediately, or within an hour. At other times, physicians and health care providers can leave an electronic message, and questions will be answered as quickly as possible.

Health care professionals may call the service to ask any question related to providing HIV care, including the latest HIV/AIDS drug treatment information, clinical trials information, subspecialty case referral, literature searches and other information. The service is designed for health care professionals rather than patients, families or others who have alternate sources of information or materials.

When a health care professional calls the new service, the call is taken by either a clinical pharmacist, primary care physician or family nurse practitioner. All staff members have extensive experience in outpatient and inpatient primary care for people with HIV-related diseases. The consultant asks for patient-specific information, including CD4 cell count, current medications, sex, age and the patient's HIV history.

This national service has grown out of a 16-month local effort that responded to nearly 1,000 calls from health care providers in northern California. The initial project was funded by HRSA's Bureau of Health Professions, through its Community Provider AIDS Training (CPAT) project, and by the American Academy of Family Physicians. "When providers expand their knowledge, they also improve the quality of care they are able to provide to their patients," said HRSA administrator Robert G. Harmon. M.D., M.P.H. "This project will be a great resource for health care professionals and the HIV/AIDS patients they serve."

This service has opened a new means of communication between health care professionals and experts on HIV care management," said HRSA's associate administrator for AIDS and director of the Bureau of Health Resources Development, G. Stephen Bowen, M.D., M.P.H. "Providers who treat people with HIV or AIDS have access to the latest information on new drugs, treatment methods and therapies for people with HIV or AIDS." HRSA is one of eight U.S. Public Health Service agencies within HHS.

AIDS Hotline Numbers for Consumers

  • CDC National AIDS Hotline -- 1-800-342-AIDS for information in Spanish - 1-800-344-SIDA
  • AIDS Clinical Trials (English & Spanish) -- 1-800-TRIALS-A