HIV Specialist - June 2021 - 50

ACADEMY MEMBER
SPOTLIGHT
BY AARON AUSTIN, MEMBERSHIP DIRECTOR
Leonard Sowah, MBChB, MPH, FACP,
AAHIVS, Bethesda, Md.
THE YEAR WAS 2005 and Dr. Leonard Sowah was in
the second year of his internal medicine residency
at the John H. Stoger Hospital in Cook County, Ill.
It was there that he began providing HIV care as
part of a weekly clinic. " I grew up in Ghana and fi rst
heard about HIV in the early 1980s when almost
all infected people died, " Dr. Sowah recalls. " In my
experience at that time HIV was the newest kid on
the block, like we have Covid-19 today, so I must say
I was attracted by the novelty and the many
unknowns. I still was not sure at residency whilst I
had a weekly HIV clinic, I also had an oncology clinic. "
Prior to coming to the United States, Dr. Sowah studied medicine at
the University of Ghana in Accra. While in Accra, he had internships in
internal medicine and OBGYN. He then moved to Chicago to complete
his internal medicine residency. During that time, Dr. Sowah's interest
in HIV further developed, with a weekly HIV clinic. He accepted his
fi rst job after residency because it off ered him the option of doing
HIV care. Thereafter, Dr. Sowah then moved to Baltimore to work at
Healthcare for the Homeless. Since that time, he has worked in academic
and community hospital settings across the state of Maryland.
Dr. Sowah practiced mostly in urban and suburban settings but also
worked two days a week providing HIV care in rural communities on
the Eastern Shore of Maryland. His patient populations tended to be
older but over time most of his patients were younger gay Black men.
In 2013, as clinical faculty at the Institute of Human Virology at
the University of Maryland in Baltimore, Dr. Sowah worked on a HIV
workforce development project funded by the CDC in Georgetown,
Guyana. He collaborated with University of Guyana physicians to develop
a HIV-focused internal medicine residency at Georgetown Public
Hospital. " This was a major undertaking in a country like Guyana with
a medical school but no structured internal medicine residency in the
country, " Dr. Sowah shares, " Though we lost funding and had to leave in
2014, my sources in Guyana tell me our program still survives today. "
As a HIV specialist physician in Baltimore, Dr. Sowah served on
the Ryan White HIV Planning Council and was the chair at the time
the Aff ordable Care Act (ACA) was passed. In this role, Dr. Sowah and
his team strategized on how to reallocate funding since they knew
Medicaid expansion could potentially make it diffi cult to adequately
50 JUNE 2021 HIVSPECIALIST WWW.AAHIVM.ORG
" ...What I like most about
working in the HIV field
is the clear change that I
have seen in the lives of our
patients over the decades.
The progress that has been
made in HIV treatment
and research within the
course of my lifetime is so
transformative... "
utilize Ryan White funds according to federal
rules. " We realized that as primary medical
care of most Ryan White clients ended up
being taken care of by Medicaid, the funding
which had always been allocated at a 75/25
split between medical care and support
systems would have a challenge in spending
money. Based on input we sought from multiple
stakeholders including the late Dr. John
Bartlett and former CDC Director Dr. Robert
Redfi eld, we applied for a waiver from HRSA
which allowed us more fl exibility in the use of
funds. HRSA ended up sending other EMAs
(Eligible Metropolitan Areas) to our team
when they were considering such initiatives. "
Today, Dr. Sowah works at the Division
of AIDS at the National Institute of Allergy
and Infectious Diseases (NIAID/NIH). He
serves as a clinical science consultant in the
development of clinical trials in the area of
HIV and viral hepatitis. His program, the
Therapeutic Research Program, contains approximately
40 clinicians and scientists who
serve in various roles in HIV research. His
http://WWW.AAHIVM.ORG

HIV Specialist - June 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of HIV Specialist - June 2021

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