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National News

Joy, Despair as San Francisco HIV Institute Readies to Close

April 3, 2002

A range of reactions greeted the announcement of the closure of the Institute for HIV Treatment and Research at California Pacific Medical Center's Davies campus. "This is a happy occurrence," said David P. Drennan, director of the research center in San Francisco's Castro district. "The HIV infection has evolved into a medically manageable, chronic and largely outpatient condition." The institute will close in May.

But physicians such as Dr. Dawn McGuire, who runs the institute's NeuroAIDS clinic, do not share Drennan's joy. She worries about the 100 patients she sees daily at the facility, and the impact the closure will have on them. "The bottom line is, Davies was meant to be the community hospital for the surrounding areas," McGuire said. "California Pacific's mission was to support and maintain HIV services at Davies. There should be a dialogue about what the community needs from this important facility."

A majority of McGuire's patients were referred from San Francisco General Hospital (SFGH) and the University of California-San Francisco. One patient, Dan Phillips, 51, said he has nowhere else to go. Diagnosed with HIV about 20 years ago, he suffered a stroke two years ago. Phillips said SFGH, where McGuire runs a clinic, would be too crowded, and other private physicians would not accept his MediCare coverage.

Founded in 1988 by Dr. Stephen Follansbee and nurse Brian Christiansen, the institute became a centralized place for HIV patients to receive care, with the philosophy that people should have the opportunity to try new drugs through clinical trials. Follansbee said he was saddened by the news, but acknowledged that many hospitals now conduct HIV clinical research compared to two decades ago. "If the need has moved on to other areas, then it needs to respond to that need," he said. But McGuire disagreed, arguing that with two out of three HIV patients developing serious neurological disorders, the institute's need was greater than ever.

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Adapted from:
San Francisco Examiner
04.02.02; Nina Wu


  
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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
 
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