After one of Maggie White’s best friends tested positive for HIV, he was confronted and shamed by another friend who was staying at his apartment. The incident influenced White’s decision to become an infectious-disease researcher.
“Even though that confrontation happened over 15 years ago, it was so backwards for my friend to be treated that way for being HIV positive,” White says. “It kind of pushed me over the edge to go into HIV research.”
White, a nurse practitioner and clinician at Crofoot MD, was no stranger to the world of medicine while growing up. Her mother, who held a Ph.D. in nursing, had mentored her from an early age and influenced her compassion for those living with HIV and AIDS.
“I recently found an article in the religion section of the Houston Chronicle from 1987 that showed my mom volunteering with AIDS patients by providing home hospice care,” White notes. “She believed that God loved everyone, and that [those living with HIV/AIDS] deserved to be loved and taken care of just like everybody else.”
Born and raised in Houston, White attained a bachelor’s degree in nursing from UT Austin and two master’s degrees in nursing and public health from the UT Health Science Center in Houston. She began working in HIV research at the Baylor College of Medicine before shifting to providing more interactive clinical care at Crofoot MD.
In addition to being one of Houston’s primary providers of PrEP HIV-prevention medication, Crofoot MD is one of the largest HIV clinical-research sites in the country, with 15 to 20 clinical trials going on at any given time.
Their focus on infectious disease has also allowed the clinic to participate in some of the upcoming COVID-19 vaccine trials. They have tested over 1,000 Houstonians for COVID-19 since March.
“The way I’m treating my patients with COVID-19 today is different than in April, or even June, because the knowledge is evolving so rapidly,” White says. “The good thing is that we haven’t seen an increased risk or worse outcomes for COVID-19 among patients with HIV.”
White says that while Crofoot MD has historically treated many Houstonians living with HIV, the practice has adopted a primary-care model to cater to the LGBTQ community’s holistic health needs beyond HIV prevention and treatment. “When I started six years ago, about 70 percent of our patients were HIV-positive, but now [that ratio] is about 50 percent,” White says.
Crofoot MD’s staff, many of whom are queer, stress the importance of creating an environment where LGBTQ folk can feel comfortable with their healthcare providers, White says. “You can’t treat and prevent HIV or any other illness in a vacuum by just looking at blood work and prescribing medication—so much of it is education and empowering patients to participate in their own health care.”
Commenting on her win for Best Nurse Practitioner, as well as Crofoot MD’s wins for Best COVID-19 Testing Site and Best Virtual Healthcare Appointments, White’s compassionate nature shines through. “All I can be is a good ally and help. If I’m able to do that, and give hope to people with HIV, I’m happy. To be honored by the community you serve, there’s nothing better than that.”
To learn more or schedule an appointment at Crofoot MD, visit crofootmd.com or call 713-526-0005.
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This article appears in the October 2020 edition of OutSmart magazine.