California: Pioneering AIDS Doctor Cites Costs, Insurance in Closing Down Practice
July 8, 2010
The physician who identified the earliest cases of Kaposi's sarcoma associated with HIV is leaving his San Francisco practice to become a consultant on chronic fatigue syndrome and autism in Manhattan.
Dr. Marcus Conant, who started the organization that eventually became the San Francisco AIDS Foundation (SFAF), will return occasionally to confer with Bay Area physicians on selected HIV/AIDS cases. However, he said he is leaving behind the financial and bureaucratic challenges of maintaining a medical practice.
"The bottom line is, you cannot make a living practicing medicine unless you work at least 50 to 60 hours a week," said Conant, 73.
San Francisco AIDS activists noted that Conant advocated for gay HIV patients at a time when it was not popular to do so.
"He saw before most people the devastation of the epidemic. And then he went about his Dr. Conant way of insisting that funding be provided for research and services," said Dr. Mitchell Katz, director of San Francisco's Department of Public Health.
After initially specializing in dermatology, Conant moved into primary care and became a noted HIV/AIDS researcher, particularly working on the development of protease inhibitors. He organized forums to disseminate the latest scientific findings on HIV to the community.
"He's always been about keeping people informed," said Michael Siever, director of behavioral health services with SFAF. "He's been a really strong voice advocating for gay men living with HIV. It's a loss for us that he's moving to New York," he said.
Conant expressed regret at leaving his San Francisco patients but added, "It's time. This is only symptomatic of a much larger problem we have in this country with health care."
San Francisco Chronicle
06.22.2010; Erin Allday
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