Treatment update for the care of patients infected with human immunodeficiency virus

Course description
Target Audience:

Pharmacists in community-based practice.

Universal program number: 0401-0000-13-007-H02-P
Activity type: Knowledge-based


To improve the pharmacist’s knowledge of HIV/AIDS and advance the ability to counsel patients with the condition.


It is estimated that 56,000 people in the United States are infected annually with human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, and for the last 20 years, the mainstay of treatment has been daily suppressive therapy with antiretroviral medications, or ARVs.1 The drastic change that has been observed over this time span is the perception that the diagnosis of HIV is no longer a terminal or life-threatening disease; it is a chronic and manageable infection. This controllable, chronic viral illness penetrates an individual’s immune system, causing a progressive destruction, and, if left untreated, will evolve to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, or AIDS. Without a healthy immune system, a person is subject to the development of various diseases, referred to as opportunistic infections, or OIs, which typically lead to a rapid and dramatic decline in health and potentially death.

However, pharmacists are positioned to make significant positive impacts on outcomes for those infected with HIV, including the management of side effects, evaluating drug interactions and administering vaccines, to name a few. In order to accomplish this, pharmacists need to arm themselves with the knowledge surrounding transmission risk factors and pathology of the disease, testing recommendations, treatment standards, and profiles of new and emerging therapies, as well as legal and ethical issues affecting those with HIV.

Learning objectives:

Upon completion of this program, the pharmacist should be able to:

  1. Explain the etiology and pathophysiology involved in HIV infection. Counsel patients and caregivers on strategies that may help prevent and treat cough, cold and flu.
  2. List HIV transmission factors and differentiate methods to aid in infection control.
  3. Categorize the classes of currently available antiretroviral medications, including side effects and drug interactions, and compare treatment modalities of HIV infection according to current clinical guidelines.
  4. Demonstrate strong counseling skills on the significance of adherence to HIV/AIDS treatment regimens and side effects of medications.
  5. Identify legal issues in caring for patients with HIV/AIDS, including protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act, sensitivity to patient confidentiality, reporting and other state-specific requirements.
To obtain credit:

A minimum test score of 70% is needed to obtain credit. Submit your answers to the learning assessment questions online at Your statement of credit will be available through CPE Monitor located at To ensure transmission of credit hours to CPE Monitor, you must enter your correct e-PID number in your CE profile.

All customer service questions should be directed to (800) 933-9666.

If you are a paid enrollee, there is no cost to participate in this lesson. The fee for participants who are not enrolled is $13.95.


Drug Store News is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) as a provider of continuing pharmacy education. This CPE Activity is approved for pharmacists and is worth 3.0 contact hours (0.3 CEUs). The activity is available for CE credit through June 30, 2015.

Faculty & disclosure

By David M. Hachey, PharmD, BCPS, AAHIVP, Professor at Idaho State University, Kasiska College of Health Professions, Department of Family Medicine

David M. Hachey and the DSN editorial and continuing education staff do not have any actual or potential conflicts of interest in relation to this lesson.

Course summary
Credit hours: 
  • 3.00 Pharmacist
Course format: 
Written Lesson
Course opens: 
Course expires: 

Please login or register to take this course.