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The Importance of Comprehensive, Full-Circle Care for Patients Living with HIV/AIDS

If you went with Wayne Malek to his doctor’s appointment today, it would feel utterly and completely typical. What you might not realize is the incredible innovation it took to develop the standards of care that have helped keep him his healthiest self for the past 19 years—ever since he was diagnosed with HIV.

But Dignity Health had been helping HIV+ patients for more than a decade before Malek’s diagnosis. During the HIV/AIDS crisis in the ’80s, St. Mary’s Medical Center caregivers were among the first to reach out and offer support to those suffering from what was at the time largely an unknown disease.  

And that was just the beginning. Dignity Health has been a consistent supporter of the LGBTQ community in providing critical access to primary care and continues to do so today with arms-open-wide compassion.  

Today, programs within Dignity Health, such as the Sister Mary Philippa Health Center at St. Mary’s Medical Center in San Francisco, have been developed to help to provide the high standard of care the LGBTQ+ community deserves. Specifically, the clinic is a comprehensive outpatient center that provides access to care for people with HIV to promote longevity and quality of life.  

As a longtime and current patient at the clinic, Malek has seen firsthand the growth of patient care and research for his condition, particularly at St. Mary’s. “It’s a more comprehensive, full-circle, holistic approach,” he said. Since his HIV diagnosis, Malek has been treated at St. Mary’s for ongoing and emergency issues, too, and said he experienced compassionate, coordinated care. “It’s not that I’m just going into the doctor and they’re just looking at my HIV—they are looking more broadly at my health to think holistically and long term,” he said. 

Dignity Health continues to care for LGBTQ+ patients, like Malek, who have for too long faced barriers to accessing the care they need with both primary and specialty services—including a broad spectrum of gender-affirming services for trans men and women. 

“The care here is so much different—everyone even knows my dog’s name,” said Malek. “I am a very loyal St. Mary’s patient because I’m not just a number here. The staff here care about my happiness and mental health as much as my physical well-being.”


HIV/AIDS Treatment and Prevention

HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention efforts have improved vastly over the past several decades. People can now live healthy, vibrant lives with the virus, and they can even reach standard life expectancies.

Learn more about HIV/AIDS Treatment and Prevention