Leading AIDS Doctor Leaving San Francisco

Health insurance companies blamed for clinic closure

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    The Conant Foundation's clinic on the second floor of this biulding at 470 Castro is closed for good thanks to America's healthcare mess, according to pioneering AIDS Doctor Marcus Conant.

    The costs of the American health insurance system have hit home in San Francisco with the departure of Dr. Marcus Conant, a pioneer in AIDS research, who will be closing his clinic.

    As a resident dermatologist at the Unviersity of San Francisco Medical Center, Conant was the first doctor to link Kaposi's sarcoma -- skin lesions that became early hallmarks of victims -- to the HIV virus which causes AIDS.

    He went on to found what became the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, was an early and widely-respected advocate for research and treatment, and also successfully defended the right of physicians to recommend cannabis to patients.

    Sadly, one of the key players in the fight to make AIDS a treatable illness and educate the public to reduce the stigma associated with the disease finally found one challenge he's no longer up to -- dealing with health insurers.

    Unfortunately, the toll that insurers take on a doctor's time finally proved too much, and after funding his private practice out of his own pocket while working part-time, is moving to New York City, where he will continue to conduct virus research and consult on difficult cases.

    "This is only symptomatic of a much bigger problem we have in this country with health care," Conant explained to the San Francisco Chronicle.

    Jackson West is now wondering how Britain's National Health Service responded to the early stages of the epidemic, not to mention how it currently treats AIDS patients.