HIV Specialist - June 2021 - 51

do not believe we did well was fi guring out how to make that procedure
pay for itself. I still encourage providers to consider anal cancer
screening as a quality improvement project for your clinics. " Dr.
Sowah also believes that success in getting patients to adhere to their
medications lies in knowing their most important motivations. While
there is no one-size-fi ts-all method for ensuring adherence, overall
reduction in treatment complexity helps.
" What I like most about working in the HIV fi eld 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, I am in awe of all
that has been done. " Dr. Sowah continues, " Another aspect of my work
which has brought joy was being able to cure hepatitis C. The wonder
of research made possible for us to cure a person of hepatitis C after
two to three months of treatment. The joy on the faces of patients
when they hear they have been cured was enough to keep me working
even in bad situations. "
When asked to consider obstacles facing HIV care providers, Dr.
specifi c focus areas are in HIV-associated
co-infections, mostly viral hepatitis, as well
as in non-infectious complications of HIV.
Dr. Sowah shares, " In my current role I do
not see patients in the traditional sense. I
do, however, have clinical oversight of the
participants enrolled in the trials within my
portfolio. So, in that regard, my patients span
multiple countries and continents. "
Though he is no longer working at clinics,
Dr. Sowah encourages all HIV care providers,
especially those with gay men in their
clinic, to include anal pap smears in their
practice. Dr. Sowah also advises, " We should
learn to appropriately screen for STIs like
gonorrhea and chlamydia using rectal and
oral swabs where appropriate. During my
time at University of Maryland we started
out by incorporating anal paps in our clinics
and referring our abnormal screens to our
colleagues in colorectal surgery. Over time,
with the help of one of my colleagues, we
started doing the high resolution anoscopies
ourselves. This was a great addition to our
practice at that time. One thing, though, that I
Sowah says, " The greatest hurdles have always been the diffi culties
with coverage. I hate doing prior authorizations but will still do it to
get a patient treated. The worst part that also sometimes was the most
rewarding, was being on the calls with the insurance company medical
directors. A well-crafted argument is usually all that is required to
get a treatment approved. "
As for the future of HIV, Dr. Sowah says, " Cabenuva, the combination
for long acting carbotegravir and rilpivirine just got approved,
so my future is already here. I hope in 10 years from now there will
be more and easy to use long-acting agents for both HIV and associated
infections like hepatitis B and C. Most patients will see their
providers once to twice a year. There hopefully will be a vaccine or
other non-user dependent HIV-prevention technologies available to
patients. " Beyond his professional life, Dr. Sowah is an avid cyclist
and has been doing century rides for the past ten years. " Most of my
Spring, Summer and Fall weekends are spent either biking or hanging
out with my family. I also have a blog that I use to express my views
on almost any topic that piques my fancy. My blog topics are, however,
mostly health-related and in the past four years I wrote quite a
few essays on current political situations. " Asked why he became an
Academy member, Sowah shares, " I fi rst joined because my fi rst job
after residency required me to get credentialed. In those days, the
Ryan White Grant Offi ce in Baltimore encouraged its grant recipients
to have their workers credentialed as HIV specialists. " HIV
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: AAHIVM Membership Director AARON AUSTIN
organizes, engages and leads the Academy's global membership of frontline
HIV care providers around initiatives of advocacy, education and professional
development. He is currently completing coursework for his MPH at The George
Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health.
WWW.AAHIVM.ORG HIVSPECIALIST JUNE 2021 51
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HIV Specialist - June 2021

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