Ribó is the faculty advisor to new POCN Center for HIV Excellence that will provide information and resources to providers who may see relatively few patients with HIV.
In January, POCN, the largest network of physician associates and nurse practitioners, launched the first HIV Center of Excellence.
Angel I. Ribó, PA-C, MPAS, AAHIVS, DFAAPA, an infectious disease physician assistant in Daytona Beach, Florida, specializes in HIV/AIDS, and serves as faculty advisor for the POCN center of excellence.
Tell us a little about your background and experience working with HIV patients.
I have been a HIV specialist and primary care provider for HIV patients for more than 25 years. I’ve been involved as a researcher, educator, mentor, public speaker and a clinician. I have worked with the unfunded in public health or the patients who are marginalized. with limited access to healthcare, working with nonprofit agencies. It’s been a great career.
What is the goal and mission of the new POCN HIV Center of Excellence?
We know the HIV epidemic for the last several years has maintained steady at about 30,000 new infections every year, and we’re not making a dent on improving that. Part of the reason is that for many years, HIV care was very complicated. Primary care people and those on the front lines thought it was not their problem. But the problem is because people are not talking about sexual health and testing people regularly, even though guidelines have stated we should be testing everyone routinely. Providers still don’t do that.
The purpose of the HIV Center of Excellence is to provide a single location where low-volume providers can access information in order to help them care for HIV patients who may show up in their practice.
What are some of the ways it helps in that regard?
We provide articles that are being published on new guidelines. We provide the recommended treatments for care — the HHS (Health and Human Services) guidelines for example. We also provide information on the testing and follow-up that should be done for some of the patients. We also provide info on general topics coming out of the news.
Can you give me an example of something that’s come out of the news recently that you try to get across?
We talk about new advancements to care. For instance, long-acting injectables which are now part of HIV care. Instead of having to take a pill every day, this is quite an advancement, because patients can be treated by these long-lasting injectables and get an injection every two months instead of having to take multiple pills each day. We have also seen a lot of new advancements in prevention to help protect people from getting HIV. Part of the goal is to get primary care providers to start having conversations about sexual health.
Any big initiatives planned in 2023 to get the word out about the HIV Center of Excellence?
We are working with a couple of pharmaceutical companies and in conversations to see if we can piggyback on the national effort that is going on to try and eradicate hepatitis C around the country. We are looking to be active and have POCN be part of the solution.
What’s the biggest buzz in HIV care right now?
Not only do we have medications now where you can take an injectable every two months, but recently there was a new HIV medication approved where you can take it once every six months. So I think the paradigm of care is moving towards making dosing more convenient in both the treatment arena and also the prevention arena.