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HIV care
providers suffering from burnout

HIV care
providers suffering from burnout

Longer-lived patients and falling funding leaves HIV caregivers overworked.

HIV caregivers are increasingly suffering from job burnout because of increased workloads stemming from HIV patients living longer lives due to successful treatment but inadequate funding to pay for long-term care, said Michael Saag, director of the Center for AIDS Research at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, in an interview on NPR's All Things Considered. Saag says doctors, nurses, social workers, and other caregivers are consistently working longer hours without overtime pay to keep up with the demands of a longer-lived patient population.

The needs of HIV patients also have become more complex during the past five years as HIVers with low incomes, untreated mental illnesses, and substance abuse problems are increasingly needing specialized care, which is more time-consuming, Saag says.

While most caregivers accept the heavier workloads "out of just a love for what they do and a commitment to the cause," Saag told NPR, some are beginning to burn out from the pressure and time constraints of the long hours and are leaving AIDS care. And replacing those workers is a challenge because many experienced caregivers are steering clear of HIV clinics because workers in that field are overburdened.

"I'm concerned about the future of my clinic because I don't know where the next wave of nurses, where the next wave of doctors are going to come from," Saag said during the interview. (The Advocate)

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