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To Russia (and Eastern Europe and Central Asia), With Love

January 23, 2015

Benjamin Young, M.D., Ph.D.

Benjamin Young, M.D., Ph.D., is the vice president and chief medical officer of the International Association of Providers of AIDS Care. He is also an adjunct professor at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver. Dr. Young cares for people living with HIV at APEX Family Medicine in Denver, Colorado.

We've made tremendous strides in the treatment of HIV. Antiretroviral therapy can prevent immune decline and death. Additionally, antiretroviral therapy can prevent new infections among babies born to HIV-infected mothers and at-risk HIV-uninfected people. Around many parts of the world, death rates have declined. In some southern African nations, these declines have exceeded 50% in the past five years. Life expectancy for people living with HIV who have access to treatment is approaching normal in several high-income countries and is estimated by UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) to have increased in sub-Saharan Africa by six years from 2002 to 2012.

Increasing life expectancy means that HIV health care providers must begin to pivot their attention away from only thinking about opportunistic infections and the initiation of treatment to thinking about healthy aging with HIV. Indeed, my own clinical focus has evolved from AIDS complications and "untreatable" multi-drug resistance to preventive medicine and osteoporosis -- topics that were unthinkable during the dark days of the epidemic. In recognizing this shift, the International Association of Providers of AIDS Care (IAPAC) has maintained the website myHIVclinic.org since 2012, with the goal of providing frontline HIV care providers with concise information about non-communicable diseases and healthy aging with HIV.

MyHIVclinic.org covers topics on healthy aging with HIV from cancer screening, diabetes and hypertension to osteoporosis and women's health. The site also has information on important coinfections like viral hepatitis and tuberculosis. Since its launch, myHIVclinic.org has reached tens of thousands of busy HIV care providers in hundreds of countries in English, Spanish and French.

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This month, IAPAC is pleased to announce the launch of a Russian language version of myHIVclinic.org. This effort attempts to provide the same information to busy frontline health care providers in the Russian-speaking parts of the world: Russia, Ukraine and the Central Asian former-Soviet republics; places that are experiencing expanding HIV epidemics and the heavy burden of non-communicable diseases, such as hepatitis and tuberculosis. These are places I have worked in medical education for many years, where stigma and discrimination often are barriers to accessing HIV-related information.

Whether you speak English, Spanish, French or Russian, and whether you are an HIV/AIDS specialist provider (re)learning primary care medicine, or you're a primary care provider trying to place HIV medicine in context, we hope that your patients are living longer and healthier and that myHIVclinic.org is a useful learning tool to help the people you care for.

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