Workforce worries: the changing worlds of HIV medicine and the general practitioners who provide it
HIV medicine has changed since the early years of the epidemic. Doctors no longer have nothing to offer, and their patients are not necessarily going to die of an AIDS related illness, at least not if they have continuing access to effective treatments. The world of the general practitioners (GPs) who provide HIV care has also changed: this is no longer a frontline emergency. In fact HIV is often now described as a manageable, chronic condition; as routine and relatively predictable, with genuine hope for the future.
So why then, in the face of all this scientific and clinical optimism, is there a nervousness building about where the next generation of HIV doctors is going to come from? If the medicine works so well, why are we starting to worry about how to find the doctors to provide it?
There are two parts to my paper, both relating to the question of how an individual becomes engaged in an area of professional interest. The first part involves some reflection on my own experience of becoming engaged with HIV as an area of research interest, and the second part focuses on the experiences and roles of GPs who have a special interest in HIV medicine in Australia, and why I think they matter.