AIDS Arms taps Voskuhl as new medical director

Dr. Gene Voskuhl

HIV specialist says he is leaving private practice to follow his passion

DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

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.

—  John Wright

AIDS Arm’s Red Ribbon Society hosting discussion on impact of health care reform law

The Red Ribbon Society of AIDS Arms will host a dinner and “lively panel discussion to address the facts and impact of Health Care Reform on you, your family and your business,” Red Ribbon members have announced.

The event begins at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 15, in the Magnolia Room at Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen, 3520 Oak Lawn Ave. Seating is limited and those attending must R.S.V.P. to Kris Martin by the end of the day on Friday, Sept. 10. The invitation I got here at the office did not include information on the cost to attend. But I bet you can find that out by e-mailing Kris at kmartin@aidsarms.org or calling her at 214-521-5191, ext. 373.

The panel discussion will feature Arnold Doyle, senior director of professional affairs at Tibotec Therapeutics; attorney Michael Regier, senior vice president of legal and corporate affairs at VHA Inc.; attorney Scott Chase, certified in health law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization; and Dr. David M. Lee with Uptown Physicians Group and Baylor University Medical Center.

The Red Ribbon Society was created in 2005 for individuals who contribute $1,000 or more on an annual basis toward the programs, research and clinical care at AIDS Arms. For more about membership, go here.

—  admin