September 16, 2005

Raffanti’s HIV work garners award

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Steven Raffanti, M.D.

Raffanti’s HIV work garners award

Steven P. Raffanti, M.D., M.P.H., associate professor of Medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, has been recognized for “significant achievements” by the HIV Medicine Association.

Raffanti, who is also chief medical officer of the Comprehensive Care Center in Nashville, will receive the association's 2005 Emerging Leader in HIV Clinical Education Award next month during the annual meeting of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) in San Francisco.

The IDSA is the sponsoring organization of the association, which represents more than 2,700 medical professionals who care for people infected with the AIDS-causing human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

In addition to recognizing Raffanti's role in establishing the Comprehensive Care Center (CCC), Tennessee's largest out-patient HIV treatment facility, the award cites his numerous contributions to HIV clinical care, research and medical education.

“Complete devotion and commitment to the best possible care for all patients drives his work on all fronts, and makes his teaching of clinicians amazingly effective,” wrote Richard T. D'Aquila, M.D., Addison B. Scoville Jr. Professor of Medicine and director of the Division of Infectious Diseases, in a letter nominating Raffanti for the award.

“This devotion to optimal care is fueled by an iron will and unshakable determination to make 'the right thing' actually happen for patients statewide,” added D'Aquila, a CCC board member who also directs the Vanderbilt-Meharry Center for AIDS Research.

“It is his clinical acumen, inspirational teaching, moral fiber and determination that have won him the greatest respect across our region, and in the national organizations in which he participates.”

Raffanti joined the Vanderbilt faculty in 1990. As director of AIDS services for Metropolitan Nashville, he forged a coalition of business and civic leaders — including then-mayor and now Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen — to establish the CCC as an independent, not-for-profit foundation in 1994.

The 14,000-square-foot facility is located off-campus and is staffed by Vanderbilt infectious disease physicians and nurses. It logs more than 1,100 patient visits each month. In the past 10 years, it has enrolled more than 5,000 patients into care, more than 2,000 of whom are still being actively followed.

Raffanti maintains a busy clinical practice — seeing about 30 patients a day in CCC's main clinic, as well as in satellite clinics in Cookeville and Springfield.

He also spearheaded development of a statewide AIDS Centers of Excellence program, which currently cares for two-thirds of the state's HIV patients. It is considered to be a national model for comprehensive — and cost-effective — primary care for people with AIDS.

Raffanti is a frequent collaborator with top HIV researchers around the country, and plays a key role in Vanderbilt's observational cohort research on outcomes of HIV infection. As the site of the Vanderbilt AIDS Clinical Trials Unit, the CCC is heavily involved in testing the latest AIDS treatments.

In addition to teaching medical students, infectious disease fellows and other health professionals, Raffanti is project director of the Tennessee AIDS Education and Training Center, which provides training in HIV/AIDS patient care to more than 2,000 health care providers from across the state.

“In the absence of Dr. Raffanti's long-term dedication,” D'Aquila concluded in his letter, “HIV care in our region would simply not be as uniquely integrated and comprehensive, or as intertwined with research opportunities that benefit patients.”