Tatelman Family Foundation Funds HIV Education Efforts
When BIDMC Overseer June Tatelman first met John Doweiko, M.D., she knew she had found a partner in her push to further educate and better care for individuals infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the cause of AIDS. For more than 20 years, Doweiko has provided comprehensive care for HIV-infected patients at BIDMC’s Healthcare Associates (HCA). As a primary care physician, he is constantly managing the inherent challenges and persistent social stigma of contracting HIV to best treat his patients. For June, a former health education teacher, and her husband, Eliot, president and CEO of Jordan’s Furniture, finding ways to support HIV-infected individuals is deeply personal. In the early 1990s, Eliot lost his older brother, Milt, to AIDS. Today, through philanthropy and hands-on involvement, the Tatelmans are dedicated to educating people about HIV and AIDS and easing the burden of the disease for patients of all ages at BIDMC and around the world. “All of this is done in his memory,” June says.
The Eliot and June Tatelman Family Foundation recently contributed $282,000 to fund a Clinical Fellowship in HIV Medicine at BIDMC as well as well as administrative support for the fellowship. With the Tatelmans’ support, Doweiko and his colleagues at HCA are hoping to train primary care physicians to better address the challenging health care needs of the approximately 1,200 HIV-infected patients across the hospital. “HIV is not always on the radar anymore,” June says. “It is not a big part of education and there is little funding. But strong evidence has shown that education programs can help reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS. I am hoping patients that come to BIDMC will be able to talk to a doctor who understands their needs and can answer any questions they might have so they can live normal, healthy lives.”
While improved treatment options over the last two decades have helped HIV-infected patients to live longer and healthier lives, physicians like Doweiko are now facing a growing patient population with new health challenges and complications intrinsic to the HIV infection. According to the most recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 1.2 million people are living with HIV infection in the United States. “We are encountering physicians in the community who don’t know how to take care of somebody with cardiovascular disease who may be co-infected with HIV,” Doweiko says. “We are trying to train physicians to treat HIV-infected patients, become comfortable with the drug regimens that are used to treat HIV-infected patients, and also take care of some of the complications that occur with aging.”
The Clinical Fellowship in HIV Medicine will provide a unique training opportunity for primary care internists who are interested in gaining more clinical experience in HIV medicine and want to include HIV care as part of their clinical work. But the training is not just about understanding drug interactions and complications; it is also about enhancing the holistic care Doweiko has provided for more than two decades. It is about understanding that some patients might have difficulty getting and taking medications or are concealing those medications from family members and loved ones. “I want to see doctors who are like John,” June says. “Doctors who talk to patients and find out how they are coping with the disease; who care about them and who know how to educate them.”