Care and Treatment for HIV & AIDS
Why Choose Treatment for HIV & AIDS at University of Colorado Hospital?
The Infectious Disease Group Practice and its HIV/AIDS Clinical Program at University of Colorado Hospital is nationally recognized.
We care for more than 1,300 patients with HIV. We also provide collaborative care for many patients at partnering clinics in Durango, Grand Junction and Pueblo.
Our program has excellent clinical outcomes: patients in our program have an AIDS-related mortality rate of less than 1 percent per year.
Our doctors are board-certified in infectious diseases and also conduct groundbreaking HIV clinical research. We offer patients access to the latest medications. The care team is multidisciplinary, and provides all levels of care, including:
- Medical care by HIV experts
- Specialty care, including oncology, endocrinology, and GYN care
- Mental health care
- Nursing and medical case management
- A specialized infectious disease pharmacy
What is HIV? What is AIDS?
Doctors first recognized the Acquired Human Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) in 1981. They then identified the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) as the cause. HIV targets the immune system, making it difficult for the body to fight infections.
Approximately 40,000 people become infected with HIV each year. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that 1 million people in the United States are living with HIV or AIDS. The prognosis for people with HIV infection greatly improved in 1996. This resulted from the development of strong new medications that directly target the virus.
Three or more antiretroviral medications are typically used to fight the infection and prevent the immune system from weakening. As a result, HIV infection has moved from an often lethal illness, to one that can be successfully stabilized for many years. This can potentially allow a normal life span.
Tests and Treatments
Tests for HIV & AIDS
A variety of blood tests are used to diagnose HIV. Once HIV has been confirmed, different blood tests are used to evaluate the progression and effects of the HIV. Some of the more common tests include:
- CD4 (t-cell) tests – measure the health of your immune system and its ability to fight disease.
- HIV viral load tests – determine how quickly the HIV virus is multiplying.
- HIV resistance testing – determines whether treatments are effective in controlling the HIV virus, and provide health-care providers with important information to treat HIV.
Treatments for HIV & AIDS
A number of medications are used to treat different aspects of HIV/AIDS. These include:
- Antiretroviral therapy drugs – slow the growth of the HIV virus.
- Others medications – used to fight infections that are caused by HIV.
The Infectious Disease Group Practice at University of Colorado has a multidisciplinary team of health care providers. Each specialist is trained to provide different aspects of infectious disease care. Your medical team will be assembled with the specialists best suited to treat your condition.
Infectious Disease Specialists at University of Colorado Hospital
Infectious disease specialists – board-certified doctors who are specially trained in diagnosing and treating infectious diseases.
Nurse practitioner (NP) – a registered nurse who has completed a master’s degree. NPs are licensed to see patients for assessment, treatment and follow-up.
Registered nurse – graduated from a formal nursing education program and is licensed by the state of Colorado.
Pharmacists – have a doctorate degree in the science of medication.
Nutritionists – health professionals with special training in nutrition. They help patients determine the best dietary choices for better health.
Endocrinologist – a board-certified medical doctor who is specially trained to diagnose diseases that affect the glands.
Obstetricians/gynecologists – an obstetrician is a board-certified medical doctor who specializes in delivering babies. A gynecologist is a board-certified medical doctor who specializes in treating diseases of the female reproductive system.
Oncologist – a board-certified medical doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating cancer.
Psychiatrist – a board-certified medical doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating mental disorders.
Psychiatric nurses – have special training in caring for patients with mental disorders.
Other Infectious Disease Staff
Social workers – help individuals ensure their personal well being and provide the resources for people to get the help they need, by assessing all aspects of their life and culture.
Patient Education & Resources
Living with HIV & AIDS
There is currently no cure for HIV and AIDS. However, new treatments and medications make it possible to live a longer, healthier life. The time it takes to develop HIV symptoms after becoming infected varies from person to person. Decide as early as possible how you want to manage your HIV infection. It is important to educate yourself about HIV infection and to establish expert medical care.
Your health-care provider can help you to monitor the health of your immune system. Two blood tests are commonly performed to determine the status of your HIV infection. This HIV viral load test measures the activity of the infection and should go down to undetectable level with medications. The CD4 lymphocyte count measures the strength of the immune system; low levels raise the risk for opportunistic infections. The CD4 count rises with effective medications.
HIV/infectious disease specialists provide primary care for many patients ith HIV infection. They can also provide consultations for HIV/AIDS patients with drug-resistant HIV and other difficult management situations.
HIV & AIDS Support Groups
Colorado AIDS Project Support Groups
- “Let’s Talk:” A support group for anyone who is HIV positive. The group is designed to facilitate mutual support around issues related to being HIV positive. Group topics include disclosure, self-esteem, relationships, medication adherence, substance abuse, sexual health, and more. Meets every Tuesday evening. Contact Rabecka Isburg, (303) 837-1501 x491.
- Living & Learning with HIV. A program of the Mental Health Center of Denver. Contact Craig Iverson, (303) 504-6501.
- Women’s Lighthouse Project. Offers a monthly support group for women. Contact Shannon Conn, (303) 344-1878.
- Women's AIDS Project. Care and prevention services are provided for women who are living with HIV/AIDS or who are at risk for HIV infection. Comprehensive case management services are provided for both adults and teen women. Assistance with transportation, housing and emergency expenses is available. Prevention activities target sex workers, incarcerated women, homeless women and at-risk teens. Individualized case management services are provided to women and their families in the home or community. Call (303)-320-1989.
- Metropolitan Community Church of the Rockies. Offers an activity group on Friday evenings at 7 p.m. for people with life-threatening illnesses or other life challenges, and their friends. Call (303) 860-1819.
- The Archdiocese of Denver HIV/AIDS Ministry. Offers a support group for people who are HIV positive, or have AIDS or Hepatitis C. Meets the first Monday of each month from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. St. Dominic Parish Center, 2901 Grove Street Denver. (303) 715-3220.
- HIV Care Link. A Christian non-profit organization that offers one to one support. Call (303) 382-1344.
Additional HIV & AIDS Resources
A project of the New Mexico AIDS Education and Training Center in the Infectious Diseases Division of the University of New Mexico School of Medicine. It has become an international resource for information on HIV/AIDS.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Comprehensive information and resources about HIV/AIDS.
Colorado AIDS Project
A community-based organization that offers services to those with HIV/AIDS, including the Wellness Resource Center, Housing Services Center and the Prevention and Education Center.
Colorado Organizations Responding to AIDS
A list of Colorado organizations responding to AIDS.
Department of Health and Human Services Treatment Guidelines and Other Resources
Federal government website with treatment guidelines, information on clinical research, and links to other HIV/AIDS resources.
HIV and AIDS Research
Doctors in the Infectious Disease Group Practice at University of Colorado Hospital are involved in research with The Colorado AIDS Clinical Trials Unit (ACTU). The ACTU conducts a wide range of clinical trials. It offers experimental treatments with antiretrovirals (drugs that slow down the growth of HIV) and immune therapy for adults at all stages of HIV disease.
Studies of therapies for opportunistic infections are also available. The Colorado ACTU is one of the 30 ACTU’s that comprise the national AIDS Clinical Trials Group (ACTG). They are funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NAIDS), a part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
HIV & AIDS Research Trials
You can review currently available studies at the Colorado ACTU website.