Dr. John Fangman, a professor at the Medical College of Wisconsin, developed social networks testing (SNT) in Wisconsin to identify HIV infected communities and prevent the spread in infected communities. He based it on one simple concept, relationships.
Fangman is also the medical director for the Aids Resource Center of Wisconsin (ARCW), Wisconsin’s largest provider of HIV medical, dental and mental health care serving 2,500 patients. ARCW Services include medical, dental, mental health, case management, housing, legal, food, and transportation.
“My interest in HIV came in the mid-1990s when it went from being a disease to a more chronic management condition. My professional interests have been on how to develop systems for patient-centered care for vulnerable populations,” said Fangman.
In 2006, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that 1.1 million people were living with diagnosed or undiagnosed HIV infection in the United States. There are 6,897 HIV infected individuals in the state of Wisconsin.
Fangman moved to Milwaukee and joined the Medical College in 2005 as assistant professor of medicine for infectious diseases and assumed his role as the medical director at ARCW in 2006.
“My role at the ARCW is to connect all ways to support patients integrating medical care,” Fangman said. “We try to focus on developing mechanisms to monitor care in addition to finding ways to monitor outside the agency.”
His team is currently working on a three-year grant designed to identify patients for high risk of HIV infection that do not have access to traditional venues of testing.
They have brought recruiters on board in addition to networks associates from sites reported for high risk of HIV infection and the majority are members of racial or ethnic minority groups that are disproportionally impacted by HIV.
“We train individuals who are members of the same social networks or sexual community networks,” said Fangman
Fangman hopes that his SNT work in both Wisconsin and within HIV research could be later transferred to the study of diabetes or heart disease.
“All infectious diseases are about relationships,” he said.
The ARCW Medical Center cared for 1,187 medical patients in 2009. Twenty-eight percent were Caucasian, 60 percent were African-American, 9 percent were Hispanic and 3 percent were of another race. The center consists of 75 percent male and 25 percent female. Of all of those patients, 33 percent are uninsured.
“John’s leadership of the ARCW Medical Center has helped Wisconsin achieve a remarkable distinction-Wisconsin has the lowest HIV mortality rate in America,” said Mike Gifford, chief operating officer of ARCW, who nominated Fangman for a Health Care Hero Award. “By assuring care to more HIV patients than any other physician in Wisconsin, John will assure we maintain this coveted outcome in HIV care.”