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Hand Clin. 1991 Aug;7(3):433-45.

AIDS in the hand patient: the team approach.

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  • 1University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center, Florida.


Hand surgeons and therapists were faced with a new clinical entity in the 1980s with the emergence of hand and upper extremity infections in patients with AIDS and HIV disease. This entity has become a worldwide epidemic of vast proportions and has proven to be one of the major health concerns of the 1990s. It seems likely that treatment of patients with this devastating disease for hand infections or more routine upper extremity problems will become routine in the future. The reality of surgical treatment and hands-on rehabilitative therapy for patients with a life-threatening infectious disease has been a concern voiced publicly by very few health care professionals, yet discussed quietly among colleagues quite frequently. Our aim must be to provide the highest quality of health care to this group of hand patients, just as we do for all other patients, while at the same time providing the safest possible environment for all members of the health care team. It appears that there is a higher incidence of HIV infection among hand patients than is noted in the general public; therefore, the hand surgeon and medical team should pay particular attention to the rapidly advancing front of new information available regarding care for this challenging group of patients. Hand surgeons and therapists are entering the 1990s armed with a wealth of new and valuable information about HIV disease that has been produced by intensive basic science research and clinical observations accumulated over the last 10 years. The fears generated by the initial misinformation and lack of information concerning modes of transmission of HIV have generally been supplanted by a more rational approach to patient care, fostered by the more accurate scientific information currently becoming available. Unfortunately, the rational approach to the HIV-related political and socioeconomic issues has not yet overtaken the discrimination and stereotyping of the populace stricken with HIV disease. It remains the responsibility of the medical community to continue research efforts aimed at delineating the clinical deficiencies manifested by these patients and determining their effects on treatment regimens for both the unique and commonplace medical and orthopedic problems noted in this patient population.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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