Two grants from the federal government totaling $4.4 million will help increase the number of health care professionals in the Midwest who can provide quality HIV care. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded both grants to the Midwest AIDS Training and Education Center (MATEC) at the University of Illinois at Chicago, according to a UIC press release. The work will affect HIV care in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio and Wisconsin.

The first grant, for $2.4 million, will support MATEC’s efforts to improve HIV/AIDS training among students in medical, nursing and pharmacy school. The second grant, for $2 million, will help MATEC establish the Midwest Fellowship for Primary Care Champions, a program to build capacity among primary care doctors in community-based clinics.

“It can be difficult for general practitioners to understand the unique and complex issues of HIV and AIDS care and prevention through current traditional medical education and to keep up with new information and best practices,” said MATEC executive director Ricardo Rivero, MD, MPH, the principal investigator of both awards, in the press release.

“It is likewise unlikely that pharmacy, nursing and medical students will seek out careers and pursue research involving HIV and AIDS topics if they remain unexposed to the topic during their medical training. This, combined with the increasing number of retiring primary care clinicians, is creating an environment in which care and prevention of HIV and AIDS are in danger of losing momentum,” said Rivero.

He continued: “With these two projects, we hope to change this dynamic across a continuum of care providers from students and future providers to veteran practitioners who are in positions that can champion system and clinic-based change.”