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U.S. News

California: Pharmacist Has a Way With HIV Patients

December 22, 2006

For years, HIV-positive residents of Laguna Beach have had to travel elsewhere to fill their prescriptions. But in June, when pharmacist Michelle J. Sherman became a consultant HIV specialist at Laguna Drug, the store became a full-service HIV/AIDS pharmacy.

"These medications help you live, but you also have side effects because some of them are very toxic," said Ric Uggen, who has had AIDS for 12 years. He has heart disease, high cholesterol and has had a triple bypass. "You have to be real aware of what's going on in your body, and Michelle just explains things, breaks it down for you, and let's you know what to look out for."

One patient told Sherman of a pharmacist at another store who announced over the loudspeaker system, "[Patient name], your AZT is ready." Another client with AIDS said that after a hospital X-ray technician learned of his condition, she threw away the pen he had used to complete his paperwork and said, "Next time, bring your own pen."

"There's no HIV sensitivity, there's no compassion" from some providers, said Sherman. "It requires a commitment and a partnership. I always tell my patients I'm part of their health care team and we have to work together."

Sherman knew at age 15 she wanted to be a pharmacist like her uncle, with whom she worked. "To work in HIV, it has to come from your heart," she said. "You're dealing with people who you become so close to and then they die. It's very stressful. So it becomes like a driving passion, which I think is essential to have to sustain us through this. It's more than just being a pharmacist."

Back to other news for December 22, 2006

Adapted from:
Orange County Register
12.14.2006; Yvette Cabrera

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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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