News and Notes

A Newsletter for Faculty and Staff of Idaho State University

February 20, 2012 — Vol. 28 No. 7

ISU Provides HIV Care for Southeast Idaho

David Hachey, Pharm.D., and the Ryan White HIV Program at the Idaho State University Family Medicine Residency are a cornerstone for providing medical treatment to people with HIV infection in Southeast Idaho.

Over the last 13 years at ISU's Department of Family Medicine, Hachey, a Clinical Professor in Family Medicine, has secured more than $1 million in funding - primarily from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration - for the care of HIV patients in Southeast Idaho and western Wyoming. ISU Family Medicine is currently providing care and services for about 120 HIV patients.

"Our mission here at the Department of Family Medicine has always been to provide care to underserved populations," said Rex Force, Pharm.D., director of the ISU Family Medicine Clinical Research Center. "HIV care is highly specialized and these patients need the right expertise and attention. The treatment provided by our team is a valuable service to the community and provides those patients with top-notch care."

"Our HIV program has several levels of benefit. For our patients, the location provides local access to care preventing patients from needing to drive to Salt Lake City or Boise," Hachey said. "But there is also another huge benefit - we train physicians and students on the basics of HIV care."

Hachey, a pharmacist by training, was recently certified as a specialist in treating HIV by the American Academy of HIV Medicine, the leading organization in the United States for certifying HIV specialists. He's the only pharmacist in the state with this certification.

Besides Hachey, the HIV team consists of infectious disease specialist Dr. Martha Buitrago, licensed practical nurse Shane Ames and family nurse practitioner Lee Abraszewski.

Family Medicine also collaborates on HIV treatment with other ISU departments, including the psychology and physical and occupational therapy departments, and the ISU Idaho Dental Education Program.

Last fall, Dr. Hachey was awarded a two-year grant in the amount of $169,000 from the Department of Health and Human Services Special Projects of National Significance to treat Hepatitis C in patients co-infected with both HIV and Hepatitis. ISU Family Medicine will now provide additional treatment to about 20 HIV patients in Southeast Idaho who also have Hepatitis C, greatly expanding the care available to them.

Hachey noted that HIV is now treated as a lifelong illness.

"The approach for care in 2012 for patients with HIV is that it is a chronic disease, like diabetes," Hachey said. "Patients diagnosed in 2012 can expect a near normal life expectancy if they have the right treatment."

He said that although infection with the virus is still a serious condition, newer medications are more powerful, easier to take and have fewer side effects.

"The success we've had in treating HIV has gone under the radar a bit," Hachey said. "The problem is there is still a bit of stigma in the community and around the world about HIV. Our patients are community members; they work, go to school and have families. One of our medical residents recently delivered a baby from one of our HIV-positive moms, and another patient currently is getting set to deliver. Of all the 20 or so babies we've delivered in the last decade, not one has contracted the virus. We provide a full spectrum of care."

Nationally, HIV infection rates have stabilized at around 55,000 new infections per year. There are currently about 1.5 million people living with HIV in the United States. Thus, the need for care nationally and locally continues to grow.

"In 1985 I was looking after young adults with HIV on the Intensive Care Unit -they all died," said Jonathan Cree, MD Chair of the ISU Department of Family Medicine. "Now, with appropriate care, they have a normal life span.

"They will need new, young, well-trained family physicians and pharmacotherapists," continued Cree, "to provide the specific primary and preventive medicine needs their disease demands. The model unit that Hachey, Buitrago, and Abraszewski run provides not only excellent specialty patient care and but also an advanced primary care training setting for the future. We are so fortunate to have this in Southeast Idaho."

Hachey's efforts in treating HIV in Southeast Idaho have not gone unnoticed. In December, Hachey was honored with a Breaking Boundaries Essence Award to "recognize dedicated service for the HIV community in the last decade." The ISU faculty member received the award at the Breaking Boundaries annual banquet and fundraiser, which raised $50,000 for the group.

Breaking Boundaries, based in Idaho Falls, defines its mission as helping "those with HIV/AIDS in Southeast Idaho live a life of independence and dignity, through direct financial support, and also to increase awareness and prevention by providing of HIV/AIDS education to the community."

"Dave was honored because members of the HIV/AIDs community recommended him because of all the service he's provided for more than a decade," said John Schroeder, ISU associate professor of physician assistant studies, and a founding board member of Breaking Boundaries.

"He is the resource on AIDs therapy in eastern Idaho," continued Schroeder, "But beyond that he is an amazing human being and teacher, and an outstanding resource not just for the HIV/AIDs community but for what he does for the entire community. I can't imagine anyone being more deserving."