Gina Simoncini, MD, MPH, AAHIVS
Temple University Hospital
Dr. Gina Simoncini attended Temple University’s School of Medicine and completed fellowships with Temple University’s Hospital and AIDS Healthcare Foundation and has been treating people living with HIV for about six years. “I did not pursue the obvious path to HIV medicine,” says Simoncini, “I decided to train in a non-accredited HIV/AIDS medicine fellowship that provided me with unique exposures to treatment, research and procedures, such as anoscopy, that are relevant to the care of people living with HIV. I have always been interested in underserved primary care and providing a voice for those who need one. While I was in residency, I enjoyed the complicated management of immunosuppressed patients. I also was drawn to caring for patients with health disparities, mental health and social struggles. When I was a third year resident, I travelled to Botswana for a global health elective. There, I cared for numerous patients living with HIV. When I returned, I decided that HIV within a primary care context fulfilled all of my interests in both medicine and public health.”
Simoncini has practices in academic medical centers and non-profit community health centers. Today she works in a general Internal Medicine academic medical center with one other HIV-specializing Internist. They have 2 CRNPs, 2 MSWs, 1 PharmD and other staff who perform data collections and coordinate the program. Together they provide comprehensive HIV care in a primary care setting for the community in North Philadelphia. On an average day, Simoncini has 11 patients scheduled for a half-day session.
Their show rates vary, and she usually sees nine to ten a session. Says Simoncini, “I care for a number of young, African American MSM who are recently diagnosed. I also care for patients who are long-term survivors who are developing co-morbidities like diabetes, coronary disease, cancer and liver disease. We care for a great number of Philadelphia women living with HIV; I think it helps that we’re all women providers at our practice (except for our PharmD). As patients living with HIV are living longer, with more co-morbidities, we need to have a strong workforce to care for the whole patient, not just the virus.”
“I really enjoy telling a HIV/HCV co-infected patient that we have cured their HCV. They are so happy that they can be cured of a disease, especially after knowledge that HIV meds are lifelong, at least right now. The greatest obstacle to providing HCV treatment access is the prior authorization processes and other obstacles that payers use to control cost.” Many of Simoncini’s patients struggle with the basics of living; housing food security, and money. This makes it difficult for them to prioritize their HIV care. Simoncini tries to help provide patients with hope, a patient heart and resources to help them stabilize their lives.
Looking ahead, Simoncini hopes to inspire more trainees to pursue primary care and incorporate care for the underserved in their clinical careers. “I hope that we start to improve the social determinants of health that dominate the lives of people living with and at risk for HIV.” Outside of work, Simoncini enjoys gardening, even weeding; : “That’s where I handle my stress.” Her husband, who is a park ranger for the National Park Service, and she love to travel, especially to many of our beautiful and peaceful National Parks.
Asked why she is an AAHIVM Members, Simoncini says “I joined AAHIVM to feel a part of a community that supports and shares ideas. I wanted to share my loud voice to advocate on the larger regional and national scale.”
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