D.A.P. doctors keep patients on the HIV Care Continuum

Posted in: Dose Newsletter, Our Stories
March 12, 2016

Think about this on March 30, National Doctors Day: Desert AIDS Project has 10 full- and part-time physicians participating in the HIV Care Continuum.

D.A.P. doctors and their peers at ASOs in the U.S. and the world are passionate about the HIV Care Continuum designed to get community members tested and those who are diagnosed positive into care, receiving antiretroviral therapy consistently, and ultimately virally suppressed.

Studies released at February’s Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) in Boston say that expanding HIV testing, treatment and the use of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) could reduce new HIV infections by 70% in five years.  However, very conservative estimates say only about a third of America’s 1.2 million HIV-positive patients have a fully suppressed virus.

Nevertheless, doctors are treating those living with HIV and AIDS and the dental and psychiatric challenges they face.

Dentists Drs. Ryan Yamashiro and Daniel Jo solve oral health issues that trouble our patients, chief among them is dry mouth brought on by the infection, all the medicines patients take to achieve viral load suppression, or both.  The dental clinic saw 374 patients in January, a 21% increase over January 2015.

Psychiatrists Drs. David Hersh and John Roberts try to make sure depression, anxiety, isolation, addictions, despair, and other mental health challenges don’t cause patients to drop out of the HIV Care Continuum. To that end, this department conducted 1,028 visits in January, including 187 psychotherapy appointments, a service that wasn’t available last January.

Through research, Dr. Steven Scheibel explores better treatments for a number of issues including a drug-resistant strain of gonorrhea, early detection of anal cancer, and adherence to medication regiments, which we know is an essential part of the HIV Care Continuum.

Desert AIDS Project in January welcomed Dr. David Morris as our new Medical Director.  Dr. Morris oversees the Health Clinic and The DOCK, which offers testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections. Dr. Morris has already impressed the staff – which includes Drs. Shubha J. Kerkar, Ashraf A. Khan, and Eric Shigeno – with his patient care, administrative skills, and his calm, caring demeanor.

The medical team is committed to making sure our patients are healthy in body and mind. With them on the case the number patients who are virally suppressed is bound to rise so we can end AIDS in our lifetime.

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