Author(s): Lucente FE
Currently, most patients with AIDS present with a manifestation involving the head, neck, or respiratory tract. The otolaryngologist may be the first physician to evaluate the patient with HIV infection and, therefore, must be aware of the various manifestations. The otolaryngologist may also be involved in diagnosing and managing the disease through modalities such as biopsy, endoscopy, tracheotomy, and other surgical procedures. In all phases of care, it is important to retain a medically appropriate and psychologically supportive environment. Although universal precautions should be followed in all phases of care, there is no need to avoid the supportive gestures such as handshaking and shoulder patting. These contacts can be most comforting to patients. Physicians should also be aware of all sources of information and medical assistance within the community that might be of further assistance to patients. The AIDS epidemic presents an enormous challenge to all health care providers. Good interdisciplinary communication among the various specialists involved in the AIDS epidemic will promote increased standards of patient care. Such communication will also provide information and support for physicians who are uncomfortable with the challenges of this epidemic.