Summary

Family physicians have treated HIV-positive patients ever since HIV was identified as the virus that causes AIDS in 1981 and continue to play a central role from the time of routine screening and diagnosis to the point where the disease stabilizes and becomes chronic. While consultation with a specialist may be needed for difficult-to-manage patients, family physicians can successfully care for HIV-positive patients. Acute retroviral infection may be difficult to differentiate from common community-acquired viruses. The approach to a patient must be respectful, nonjudgmental, and confidential. DHHS guidelines provide useful information about treatment of HIV with HAART. Treatment with HAART extends life and improves quality of life but is associated with significant morbidity and side effects.

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