Mount Sinai Chosen as New York State Hub for HIV/Hepatitis C Training and Education

The New York State Department of Health, AIDS Institute has awarded the Institute for Advanced Medicine (IAM) at the Mount Sinai Health System, a five-year, $5 million clinical education and training grant to help health care providers in New York State improve the outcomes of patients with HIV, hepatitis C (HCV), and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

The grant (Clinical Education Initiative HIV/Hepatitis C Center for Excellence) will offer web-based and distance learning, conferences, in-person training, and preceptorships to help train more than 9,000 primary care providers, emergency department clinicians, internists, family practitioners, obstetricians/gynecologists, and STD and HIV specialists throughout New York. Among those who will receive help are clinicians located in remote parts of the state with little infrastructure to support them or their patients.

Clinicians will be able to discuss disease management with a specialist via a toll-free telephone number, and will have emergency access to a 24/7 hotline for post-exposure prophylaxis.

“It was a huge honor to receive this competitive grant that positions Mount Sinai as the expert in education and training of health care providers throughout New York State,” says Antonio Urbina, MD, Associate Medical Director of the Spencer Cox Center for Health, at the Institute for Advanced Medicine, and the grant’s principal investigator. “As a combined health system, we will be able to draw from our expertise in liver diseases, HIV, substance abuse, and ambulatory care.”

In late June, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced an initiative to end the AIDS epidemic in New York State. Revolutionary new treatments now available for HIV and HCV have made this initiative more attainable than ever. According to specialists, HCV is the leading cause of death in HIV patients.

Governor Cuomo’s three-point program calls for:

  • Identifying people with HIV who remain undiagnosed and linking them to health care;
  • Ensuring that people with HIV continue their medical therapy to maximize virus suppression and prevent further transmission; and
  • Providing access to Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) for high-risk persons to keep them HIV negative.

PrEP, a pill that contains two antiviral medicines, is now available to prevent and treat HIV. The new grant will enable Mount Sinai to provide technical assistance in implementing PrEP services in clinic settings.

Two effective new treatments for HCV, sofosbuvir (Sovaldi) and simeprevir (Olysio), which became available late last year, will require a significant level of physician education. Says Douglas Dieterich, MD, Professor of Medicine (Liver Diseases) at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and one of the grant’s two clinical leaders, “We will be doing a lot of lectures, symposia, web conferences, advertising, and individual consultations with centers that don’t have liver specialists. The treatment for hepatitis C has been revolutionized and we will be able to treat acute and chronic infections better than ever.”

Terri L. Wilder, MSW, Director of HIV/AIDS Education and Training at the Spencer Cox Center for Health at the Institute for Advanced Medicine, and the grant’s director, says, “We can truly make a difference in the communities we serve by making sure that medical providers are trained on these very important topics.”

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