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Two-Thirds of U.S. Adults Support Forgiving Student Loans to Boost Number of Infectious Diseases Physicians

National poll reveals widespread support for measures to prepare America for future pandemics

Congress must take immediate action on the PREVENT Pandemics Act

Two thirds (65%) of U.S. adults believe the federal government should help pay the loans of medical students who focus on managing infectious diseases and agree to work in rural areas or regions without doctors, according to a national poll by Big Village commissioned by the Infectious Diseases Society of America.

“Physicians who focus on infectious diseases are uniquely qualified to help prepare for the next pandemic, but 80% of U.S. counties lack a single ID doctor,” said Carlos del Rio, MD, FIDSA, president of IDSA. “Congress must include the PREVENT Pandemics Act in the year-end omnibus package, because the nation needs more infectious diseases experts to prepare governments, businesses, schools and citizens for the next crisis.”

Ninety-one percent of poll respondents said it was important to have infectious diseases experts in hospitals to protect patients from infections when receiving chemotherapy or surgery like a hip replacement. Infectious diseases experts were also viewed as vital to public health preparedness. Sixty-five percent said increasing the number of people who focus on managing infectious diseases will better prepare the U.S. for the next pandemic.

The PREVENT Pandemics Act includes a provision called the BIO Preparedness Workforce Pilot Program that would incentivize health care professionals to choose to focus on infectious diseases. Experts say the legislation is crucial to helping shore up the nation’s infectious diseases workforce, medical supply chains, surveillance capabilities and medical countermeasure development. More than 100 health organizations representing patients and health care providers support key provisions of this bipartisan legislation.

During the recent Match, in which medicine and pediatrics residents select their subspecialty placement, only 56% of adult and 49% of pediatric infectious diseases training programs were filled, while most other specialties filled all or nearly all of their programs.

Big Village surveyed 1,007 adults 18 years of age and older. The online omnibus study is conducted three times a week among a demographically representative U.S. sample of adults 18 years of age and older. The poll was conducted Nov. 16-18. The margin of error associated with a sample of 1,007 is +/- 3.1%.

About IDSA
The Infectious Diseases Society of America is a community of more than 12,000 physicians, scientists and public health experts who specialize in infectious diseases. Its purpose is to improve the health of individuals, communities and society by promoting excellence in patient care, education, research, public health and prevention relating to infectious diseases. Learn more at

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