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March 13, 1996

Survival of Patients With AIDS Depends on Physicians' Experience Treating the Disease

JAMA. 1996;275(10):745-746. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03530340009003

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HOW LONG HIV-infected patients live after they're diagnosed with AIDS depends to a surprising degree on whether their physicians have even a modest amount of experience in treating the disease.

New research reported at the Third Annual Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Washington, DC, found that people with AIDS whose therapy was managed by primary care physicians with no previous experience in treating such patients died more than a year sooner than those whose physicians had previously treated at least five patients. Even people whose physicians had treated only a handful of patients lived 7 months longer.

Previous studies found lower mortality rates among patients who were treated at hospitals that cared for greater numbers of patients with AIDS-related conditions, suggesting that the experience gained in treating larger numbers of patients may lead to better management strategies and patient outcomes.

Given this apparent relationship between experience and patient