Saving Lives: The Role of The Pharmacist in HIV

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“BE THE CHANGE”

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What you will learn

  • About the City of Laguna Beach HIV Advisory Committee
  • About Laguna Beach Community Clinic
  • The mission of the HIV Advisory Committee
  • Shanti Orange County
  • World AIDS Day 2020
  • Why it Matters

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Transcription

Michelle:
This is Michelle Sherman, president of Michelle Rx pharmacist’s consulting services and the host of the conscious pharmacist podcast. Welcome to this week’s episode that is going to be all about world AIDS day in 2020 have an amazing guest on our show today. And we really going to be talking about a topic that’s really dear to my heart and something that I’ve been involved with my entire career as an HIV pharmacist, but we are going to actually talk about world AIDS day and the impact on the city of Laguna beach and the Laguna beach HIV advisory committee in the city of Laguna beach, California. And it is my pleasure to have my friend and clinic director from the Laguna beach community clinic and chairperson of the Laguna beach HIV advisory committee. Adriana Saya. Welcome to the show today. Hello everyone.

Adriana:
And thank you, Michelle, for having me. What Michelle did not mention is that I have the pleasure of sharing HIV as she is my co-chair kudos to Michelle for doing this and well, thanks, Adrian.

Michelle:
Thanks. And thanks for being on the show today. I know, you know, we, we’ve been living through such trying times and,uyou know, you’re the clinic director at the Laguna beach community clinic and the clinic is a focal point and an integral part of,ulike care for the city of Laguna beach and surrounding cities. Unot only for HIV, but for,uother chronic illnesses, primary care, and the clinic has played such a critical role in,uorange county’s care for, you know, during the pandemic. So thank you for taking the time and, you know, being on here today,ufor the show. So let’s, let’s, let’s let our listeners know because we have listeners,uyou know, from far and wide and not only California, but like across the nation. Uwhat is the Laguna beach HIV advisory committee and what does that even mean for, for our listeners out there? Absolutely. Thank you, Michelle, for having me,uas you know, this is a trying and challenging year for all of us,

Adriana:
Given the pandemic that we’re all experiencing at some level, our lives have all been altered due to this, but like you said, in the midst of this, we still need to seek healthcare. We still need to make sure that we are taking our medications and that as a community clinic, we are here for everyone. Not just the HIV patients, but all patients from prenatal all the way to geriatric. So as a community clinic, I think it’s very important to do preventative health and be there for everyone. So I do want to give kudos to my staff. We have been open continue to be open from day one. And we’ve learned so much about telemedicine and we’ve learned so much about redesigning our workflow to keep both patients and staff healthy and still keep our doors open and provide access to care for everyone.

Adriana:
The Laguna beach, HIV cities advisory committee its mission statement is the mission of it is education about HIV it’s transmission per plus assistance and support of those living with HIV AIDS. We strive to diminish the social stigma still associated with HIV and AIDS. I am, I’m thrilled to be on the committee. I’ve been on the committee now for about over five years and the last two years sharing with you, the co-chair it is really about people in the community that are very concerned and want to participate and assist with anything to do with ending the HIV epidemic. As you all know it’s not just about the medical care, but it’s about stigma. It’s about the social injustice that occur and we’re here to support and advocate for them. And I think that it’s really dear to our hearts because like yourself were so passionate. Everybody on the board is so passionate about sharing and making it somewhere where people can join us and hear their voices on this important topic.

Michelle:
Absolutely. And you know, for the listeners out there the city of Laguna beach at the beginning of the pandemic, which, you know, tomorrow’s world AIDS day, as I was reflecting on this you know, the first cases reported in the United States were back in 1981, so 39 years ago. And the city of Laguna beach for many years was had the highest incidence of HIV per capita across the nation. Over 500 citizens in the city of Laguna beach have died of AIDS like the years and the, the massive impact that this this virus and this pandemic head on on the city really jolted the Laguna beach city council into gear. And in 1987, they developed and formed the Laguna beach HIV advisory committee, which is exactly what it is. It’s an HIV committee of, of experts, physicians community providers.

Michelle:
And most importantly, people living with HIV from within the city of Laguna beach to like Adrian mentioned, was to talk about stigma, talk about social injustice and the city to be an integral part of taking care of its citizens who were living with HIV. And I’ve been on the committee for a long time from back in those days from when as I used to go to the hospital and visit people, living with HIV. And, you know, the COVID pandemic makes me really reflect on this because it feels like we’re doing this again. Now with people just ending up in the hospital and dying alone. And I used to go and do hospital visits and like the next week people were dead. And that’s why the city like got into gear and the clinic has always been part of this committee and providing HIV care to the community.

Michelle:
And then other like organizations like Shanti orange County who at that time was in the city of Laguna beach AIDS services foundation. Now radiant health centers at the time were also participating as well as the clinic and other, other community providers. But it’s like so important because this city is the only taskforce or the only advisory committee to a city council to any city council across the country. So, you know, in our little orange County and the city of Laguna beach who have always had the foresight to take care of its citizens health, but by this committee and, you know, world AIDS day has always been a focal point of this committee to, to remember everybody from the city and have a Memorial to everybody who, who has died of this epidemic. So we can remember all those, but while we remember all those we’ve lost, we’ve also got to celebrate everybody that’s living with this disease. And for this year, the topic of, or the theme for world AIDS day is, is ending the epidemic, which is something 39 years ago. We never even dreamed of. So, you know, the committee does extraordinary work and to today is world AIDS day. So we we’ve published the spot cost on world AIDS day. Want to let our listeners know, like what, what is it that we as a committee do in Laguna beach on world AIDS day?

Adriana:
Absolutely. Like you said Michelle, it’s important to shed light on the people that are currently living with HIV while we are going to have a celebration and a candlelight, a Memorial starting at 4:00 PM today. It’s important to continue to help those living with HIV. And the theme like you mentioned is ending the HIV epidemic, resilience and impact, and the resilience that these patients and persons living with HIV and their loved ones have shown us is, is outstanding. While there is no cure, we have come a long way since those ugly, ugly days back then. But you mentioned something so pointed because

Adriana:
Is that our patients are dying by themselves in the hospitals because due to COVID-19 restrictions, they’re not able to be with their loved ones. So it is very, very sad that that COVID-19 has brought back all these memories of the AIDS epidemic. And it’s good to, to know that on world AIDS day, we don’t forget, we will have the candlelight Memorial at 4:00 PM. Please come by. We will be also giving out free HIV vouchers provided by the clinic for a free confidential HIV test at any time. This will get you a test, no appointment needed. And so I think it’s important to continue to work on the stabilizing it letting people have access to care and knowing how to live with HIV and more importantly also providing prep. Michelle, would you like to talk anything about prep? If you have a few seconds so important to, to give access to prep and as a clinic, we are a prep center.

Adriana:
We’ll also a COVID testing center and also this is the one year by may Michelle get in please get your flu shot. It’s so important. We don’t want to have a twins pandemic. So all about prevention, all about care, so important. If the resources are there, let’s, let’s go ahead and take care of our loved ones and take care of ourselves by, by getting the flu vaccine. And if you’re someone who is eligible for prep, please, please do, please do get it. Michelle, do you want to talk about prep a little bit? And yeah, that’s,

Michelle:
That’s so important because this year, the world AIDS day theme is like ending the epidemic and you’ve got to look at it from a multi-factorial approach. It’s, it’s all very well, you know talking about adherence to, to patients living with HIV and making sure they remain on their antiretroviral therapy, but we’ve got to look at it from a community approach. And the way to end this epidemic is first of all, to get everybody tested. And those people that are positive getting, getting on antiretroviral therapy. We know now that if people are undetectable, so their viral load is undetectable, they cannot transmit the virus to others. So this, the, the initiative of U equals U undetectable is untransmissable. So that is like critically important. But as you mentioned, prep is also critically important. So when people test for HIV and somebody is HIV negative, and they are at risk for contracting HIV, the prep, the pre-exposure prophylaxis is absolutely like essential to get more people on prep, to prevent people from becoming HIV in the first place.

Michelle:
So you know, the Laguna beach community clinic is, is a, is a prep center. People can come and get tested and get on prep. You know, I’ve done previous podcasts on, on, on on prep and especially like [inaudible], which is the California pharmacy law that allows pharmacists trained pharmacists to furnish prep. So this expansion of like prep and pep, like post-exposure prophylaxis services that, that the clinic provides is really crucial. That goes hand in hand with getting people tested and on antiretroviral therapy when they positive. But the people that are negative to get people on prep is how are we going to end the epidemic? Because if we get people tested and on treatment or people on prep, we’re gonna decrease the community viral load and decrease HIV transmissions. And that’s how we’re going to get to the goals of this epidemic. So, you know, just, just to add on, you know I’ve been on the, the, the, the H the Laguna beach HIV advisory committee for many, many years, probably I think almost since shortly after 1987. So I’m kind of dating myself. Biggest privileges I have, is to be, is, is that I’m part of the Laguna beach community clinic, like team. And, you know, it’s a privilege to be an advanced practice pharmacist for the clinic. And, you know, I’ve worked with you and with, you know, dr. Jorgensen and dr. No, and dr. Rubal and dr. Bent and all the providers in providing care to patients for gosh, well, over 20 years,

Adriana:
Well, it’s a privilege having you. And I think it’s more of a gift for our patients, not just our HIV patients, but all our patients, because it’s through education, it’s through prevention that we are going to contribute to, to ending the HIV epidemic. We just need to stay together. We need to stay focused and we need to continue to spread the word and provide access.

Michelle:
No, absolutely. So, you know, as today, as we celebrate world AIDS day and you know, for all those living with HIV and we, we remember all those that we’ve lost. So dear to us, the names that we, or, or too numerous to, to, to, to, it could take up a whole hour of a show, just listing the names of the people that we in our small community of Laguna beach have lost. We have to remember those people so we can continue each day to fight the fight and continue, you know, moving forward with it, with ending this epidemic. So do you have any like additional words of wisdom or anything else that our listeners need to know about Laguna beach, the committee world AIDS day?

Adriana:
Well, I’d like to invite anyone who’s interested to the committee. We meet on the first Thursday of the month at 4:00 PM. It’s an open invitation, please come join us. Learn what we’re about. One of the good things with the COVID-19 restriction is that we are currently doing it on zoom, and I’d be happy to send you an invite. It’s wonderful to be around all these talented and passionate people that are on the committee who really share this message and, and share this vision of ending the HIV epidemic some point. I think that it’s through this type of grassroots committees that our voices are heard and that we move things may be starting in a little town hall meeting and just moving it along. It’s very important that your voice is heard and that education is provided. And as well as I continue to say access for care.

Adriana:
And that’s why I feel very proud to be part of the Laguna beach community clinic. I’ll go ahead and date myself like you did Michelle since 1997 being part of a community clinic. This is one of the wonderful things that we get to know our neighbors within our community and keep our doors open to provide the essential health care and, and, and most importantly, preventative care to keep them healthy and, and keep them moving in the right direction. I want to take this moment and remind everybody really does take a village to move this along and we’ve come such a long way. And so once again, I’d like to go ahead and invite everyone to our flight Memorial today at main beach on cobblestone at 4:00 PM. Please come and join us. We will have activity such as the heart placing of the names on a tree along Wellnet tree honoring dos have gone due to this disease.

Adriana:
We specifically picked hearts because they will always be in our hearts, whether there are parents, brother, or daughters that have passed. And so please come and join our activities right before the candlelight Memorial, which will be at four o’clock. We will be maintaining social distancing. And once again, I want to thank the city for allowing us to do that despite the COVID 19 restrictions we’re as a committee, we’re very honored and blessed that we haven’t been given the green light to go ahead and do that. We will maintain social distancing and keep masks on and keep ourselves safe and be there in person for such a special event. So for 4:00 PM, everyone candlelight Memorial today at main beach cobblestone area and the city of Laguna beach. If you forget your mask, don’t worry. We will have mass for you. Please come in and join us.

Adriana:
I also like to let everyone know we’re going to be live streaming it, and we will give you the details soon after. Thank you.

Adriana:
Thanks, Adriana. And yes, we full for those of you who want to participate in, in, in a world AIDS day program. We’d love to have you, and as Adrian mentioned, we will be live streaming it. Our Facebook pages, Laguna is the Laguna beach HIV advisory committee. And there’s a link in the resources on this podcast to the page. So we’ll be live streaming, so you can just pop on our Facebook page. It’s 4:00 PM Pacific time today, and join us virtually for our world AIDS day thing. So Adrian, thank you so much for being on the show and to all the pharmacists technicians and everybody out there listening to the show. Remember it does take a village and after you’ve listened to the show today, think about what you can do in your communities to make a big difference in, remember you are the change. Thank you so much.

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