Northern California Pager Consultation Service Connects Doctors Treating HIV-Positive Pregnant Women, Experts
The San Francisco Chronicle on Friday profiled Alameda County's Family Care Network and the University of California-San Francisco Medical Center's 24-hour pager consultation service aimed at connecting hospitals and clinicians without expertise in the area of HIV vertical transmission with clinicians who have experience treating HIV-positive pregnant women. The program, which began Feb. 1, was created in response to the fact that although there has been a "revolution" in preventing vertical HIV transmission in the past 10 years, most hospitals do not have resident experts in the field, according to the Chronicle. Officials distributed a toll-free phone number to more than 100 emergency rooms and delivery units throughout Northern California, and one of 10 participating clinicians is available to answer questions about HIV treatment on holidays, nights and weekends, the program's focus times. Treating HIV-positive pregnant women "involves many variables, from the dosage of AZT and other drugs to making decisions about breast feeding," Stephanie Mann, a perinatologist at the UCSF Medical Center and one of the experts, said, according to the Chronicle. "Unless you're doing this all the time, (the technology) is impossible to keep up with. Patients have a right to know what is cutting-edge," she added. With proper therapy, the risk of mother-to-child HIV transmission drops from 25% to as low as 1%, according to the CDC. "This is about giving people the best information so they can make the best choices," Claire Borkert, co-medical director at the East Bay AIDS Center, said. According to the Chronicle, the service has provided information to a "handful" of callers since its inception (Bulwa, San Francisco Chronicle, 5/9).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.