A population-based study evaluating family physicians' HIV experience and care of people living with HIV in Ontario

Ann Fam Med. 2015 Sep;13(5):436-45. doi: 10.1370/afm.1822.


Purpose: Greater physician experience managing human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection has been associated with better HIV-specific outcomes. The objective of this study was to evaluate whether the HIV experience of a family physician modifies the association between the model of care delivery and the quality of care for people living with HIV.

Methods: We retrospectively analyzed data from a population-based observational study conducted between April 1, 2009, and March 31, 2012. A total of 13,417 patients with HIV in Ontario were stratified into 5 possible patterns or models of care. We used multivariable hierarchical logistic regression analyses, adjusted for patient characteristics and pairwise comparisons, to evaluate the modification of the association between care model and indicators of quality of care (receipt of antiretroviral therapy, cancer screening, and health care use) by level of physician HIV experience (≤5, 6-49, ≥50 patients during study period).

Results: The majority of HIV-positive patients (52.8%) saw family physicians exclusively for their care. Among these patients, receipt of antiretroviral therapy was significantly lower for those receiving care from family physicians with 5 or fewer patients and 6-49 patients compared with those with 50 or more patients (mean levels of adherence [95% CIs] were 0.34 [0.30-0.39] and 0.40 [0.34-0.45], respectively, vs 0.77 [0.74-0.80]). Patients' receipt of cancer screenings and health care use were unrelated to family physician HIV experience.

Conclusions: Family physician HIV experience was strongly associated with receipt of antiretroviral therapy by HIV-positive patients, especially among those seeing only family physicians for their care. Future work must determine the best models for integrating and delivering comprehensive HIV care among diverse populations and settings.

Keywords: chronic disease; comorbidity; health services delivery; human immunodeficiency virus; primary care; specialists.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Chronic Disease
  • Comorbidity
  • Databases, Factual
  • Delivery of Health Care / standards*
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / nursing*
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Ontario
  • Physicians, Family / standards*
  • Primary Health Care / standards*
  • Retrospective Studies