HIV specialist says he is leaving private practice to follow his passion
DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer
Dr. Gene Voskuhl will become the new medical director of AIDS Arms effective Aug. 22, a job change Voskuhl said this week is “one heck of an opportunity.”
AIDS Arms’ former medical director, Dr. Keith Rawlings, is moving to San Francisco to take a job in private industry. Rawlings helped develop AIDS Arms’ medical program and opened its Peabody Health Center in South Dallas in 2001.
Voskuhl will join the organization as it expands its health services with a second clinic set to open in Oak Cliff in September. He is an internist specializing in infectious diseases, and was clinical director at the University of Oklahoma’s College of Medicine in Oklahoma City where he worked with underserved populations affected by HIV.
Voskuhl said that his Oklahoma clinic was also a Ryan White-funded facility.
Currently, Voskuhl is a doctor with Uptown Physicians Group, one of the largest private practices with an HIV specialty in Dallas, and he was an infectious disease consultant at Baylor University Medical Center. Preparing for his departure, Uptown is currently placing his patients with other physicians within the practice.
In addition to seeing patients at the AIDS Arms clinic, Voskuhl is excited about the research program already underway at Peabody. Current clinical care and prevention strategies are two areas in of focus in the agency’s research work.
One upcoming study includes using pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, therapy.
“No one knows how well it will work,” Voskuhl said.
But he said it was one approach to prevention for discordant couples trying to prevent the negative partner from contracting HIV. He said that for high-risk people not practicing safe sex, it might also be useful.
Voskuhl said that AIDS Arms Executive Director Raeline Nobles is an important part of the reason he decided to take the new position, and he praised her commitment to helping people with HIV.
“It’s an important job in the community,” he said. “When the opportunity came up, I said, ‘I have to do this.’”
Voskuhl said he is glad the position will give him an opportunity to focus on HIV care, because “That’s truly my passion.”
The new Oak Cliff clinic is expected to provide medical care to 2,500 patients in addition to several thousand already served at Peabody. Dallas County Health and Human Services estimates 6,000 HIV-positive people in Dallas County do not receive any medical care.
Voskuhl said the clinic was a real safety net. Many of the clients don’t qualify for Medicare or Medicaid and have no insurance.
“The only other option is Amelia Court,” the HIV clinic at county hospital Parkland Memorial, he said.
The AIDS Arms clinic, however, will also serve patients with insurance who decide to access AIDS Arms’ variety of services and receive their medical care in one location. In addition to new, state-of-the-art facilities, a variety of social services that AIDS Arms offers and other programs will be available at the Oak Cliff clinic.
Although work on the multi-million dollar clinic is nearing completion, fundraising continues in the agency’s Call to Arms campaign.