Years ago, treating people with HIV brought Drs. Ana Puga and Requel Lopes together. At the time, Dr. Puga referred her patients to Lopes for acupuncture. But that was then.
Now, Dr. Puga is regional medical director for the Southern U.S. region with ViiV Healthcare. Her role involves medical education, research, and bringing the latest data to doctors around the country. She also practices medicine one day a week with Care Resource in Fort Lauderdale. She’s seen the fight against HIV evolve.
“It’s gone from attending funerals to attending graduations and celebrations. When I first started, none of my patients made it past the age of five,” Dr. Puga said. “And now most of my patients are in their 20s and 30s, and they are surviving. That’s a big change from when I got started. But there’s still a lot of work to be done.”
Dr. Lopes continues running her practice and is also the executive director of the World AIDS Museum, where she helps to facilitate a community dialogue around HIV and AIDS. “This takes my activism and involvement with the HIV/AIDS community to a different level,” Lopessaid. “We’re documenting the history of HIV and talking about it in new ways.”
A lot of the museum’s work takes place in the school system, teaching young people about HIV. There are also community discussions to share information that people are going to hear, in a way that they can hear it. Another priority is helping people realize that HIV and AIDS is not just a gay disease.
“There are a lot of similarities in our work. The work is very similar as far as what the museum tries to do and what I’m doing clinically. That includes us collaborating every day on how she’s growing the museum and what I’m finding out, so we can come together to make it work.”
They are engaged and will marry on the beach in June.
— Denise Royal
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Table of Contents: SFGN's OUT50 2019
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