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Tonia Poteat PA-C MMSc, MPH - excellence in HIV care

After years as an AIDS activist and educator, I enrolled in Emory University’s Physician Assistant Program in 1993 so that I could provide direct care to people living with HIV.  I was honored to serve as a National Health Service Corps Scholar; and I spent the first few years after graduation providing care at a methadone clinic and at a community health center in New York.  After completing my service obligation, I made the leap to Kansas City where I continued to provide HIV care at a family practice that served people in the poorest county in the state. During my time in Kansas City, I also completed a year-long residency program in liver disease with a specialty in Hepatitis C.   However, more than five years away from the south had left me homesick, so I returned to Atlanta in 2001 to accept a position with Grady’s Infections Disease Program (IDP), the largest comprehensive HIV care and treatment program in the country.  There, in addition to my clinical work with HIV+ women, I was able to spearhead their first HIV-Hepatitis co-infection treatment program.

 A vacation to South Africa in 2003 changed the course of my career. I was moved by the enormous health disparities and inspired by the burgeoning international AIDS movement.  So, a few months after my return, I accepted a position with the Global AIDS Program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention where I helped to monitor HIV treatment programs in sub-Saharan Africa and to develop guidelines that low income countries could use to initiate and improve their programs.  Because I loved working with patients, I continued my work at Grady part-time.  I even managed to earn a Masters degree in Public Health from Emory along the way.

With both excitement and sadness, I left Grady IDP in 2008 to pursue a PhD in International Health at Johns Hopkins.  While in Baltimore, I continue to work part-time caring for family medicine and HIV patients at a large community health center.  In my spare time, I enjoy teaching PA students as well as practicing clinicians, so I serve as a consultant clinical instructor with the Southeast AIDS and Education Center (SEATEC).  After earning my PhD, I hope to use my clinical, research and teaching skills to improve the health of underserved people around the world. 

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