HIV Specialist - March 2021 - 48

ACADEMY M EMBER

SPOTLIGHT
BY AARON AUSTIN, MEMBERSHIP DIRECTOR

Lydia Aoun Barakat, MD, AAHIVS,
New Haven, Connecticut

A

of the Yale HIV Ambulatory
Center, Dr. Lydia Aoun Barakat oversees the care
of over 1,000 people living with HIV or at risk for
HIV. The clinic is located at the Yale New Haven
Health Academic Medical Center in New Haven, Connecticut
and is home to a staff of 30 providers including advanced practice
providers and trainees. The care team features a deep bench of
talented professionals including pharmacists, social workers,
nurses, medical assistants, administrative assistants, medical case
managers, and HIV counselors. They provide mental health and
substance use disorder services on site. Dr. Barakat's clinic was the
first in Connecticut to provide PrEP and remains the largest clinic
in the state for HIV care. Additionally, hers is the site for several
clinical trials, as well as translational and clinical research.
S MEDICAL DIRECTOR

Dr. Barakat has been providing care to people living with HIV for
the last 25 years. " I have the pleasure to provide direct HIV primary
care to a cohort of approximately 100 people with HIV and I supervise
trainees for the care of approximately 150 people with HIV, " shares
Barakat. " Our patients are a mixture of young, middle aged and older.
More than half of our patients with HIV are older than 50 years old.
Around 40% are women. In addition, our patients with HIV come
from different racial, socioeconomical, and educational backgrounds.
Our new patients are young, majority men who have sex with men,
and predominately Black. Almost 70% of our patients with HIV have
Medicaid or Medicare and less than 5% are uninsured. "
Dr. Barakat earned her Medical Degree from the Lebanese
University in Beirut, Lebanon. She completed her residency at a Yaleaffiliated hospital residency program and her infectious disease fellowship at Yale University. She is board certified in Internal Medicine
and Infectious Disease and is credentialed as an HIV Specialist.
" The main reason I was compelled with HIV care was the social
injustice and health inequity associated with the disease, " Barakat
reflects, " In addition, HIV disease is a continuously evolving disease
that is intriguing as an infectious disease. Lastly, I feel it is a privilege
to be the primary care provider to my patients with HIV and establish a long-term relationship with them and their loved ones. I have
patients who I have been caring for, for 25 years. " Dr. Barakat engages
and empowers her patients to take control of their health. Her advice?

48

MARCH 2021

HIVSPECIALIST

WWW.AAHIVM.ORG

I feel it is a privilege
to be the primary care
provider to my patients
with HIV and establish a
long-term relationship
with them and their
loved ones.
Treat them as a person first, then treat their
disease. The relationship is built on listening,
caring, and trusting.
Asked about the most rewarding part of
her work, Dr. Barakat shares it is seeing pregnant women living with HIV giving birth to
an HIV-uninfected baby due to advancement
in treatment options. Dr. Barakat's favorite
part of her job is training the next generation
of physicians in HIV care and prevention.
And as for challenges, " The greatest obstacle I
face is the stigma associated with HIV and its
impact on the social determinants of health. "
Interested in successful or unique practices that other HIV care providers can learn
from, adapt, or replicate, Dr. Barakat shares
that her clinic started offering a wellness visit
to people with HIV over 50 years old. " During
this visit, we provide several assessments
such as frailty, neurocognitive, nutritional,
and more. In addition, the patient will meet
with the pharmacist to address polypharmacy and any potential drug-drug interactions,
and with the social worker to identify any
personal or social needs including discussion
about goals of care. " When confronted with
the COVID-19 pandemic Dr. Barakat's site
implemented a telehealth program that was


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HIV Specialist - March 2021

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

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