Internist Speaks Volumes for Those Suffering in Silence

MAY 19, 2015
Ed Rabinowitz
Three-Year Grant
 
Feinberg recently received a 3-year grant for $900,000 from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to prevent Hepatitis C from spreading throughout rural and suburban areas in southern Ohio. The project is called StOPHeP, or Southern Ohio Prevents Hepatitis Project. The focus is on harm reduction, and Feinberg acknowledges there is much stigma, bias, and ignorance to overcome in making the program a success.
 
“People say, ‘Why do you care? They’re just junkies. These people got what they deserve,’” Feinberg says. “I don't know. Everyone has sex sooner or later. The tragedies of the Catholic church show you that even people who say they’re not going to have sex, have sex.”
 
The grant money will go toward hiring peer navigators and outreach workers to connect with 18- to 30-year-olds who inject drugs and have contracted or are at risk of contracting Hepatitis C. Feinberg plans to use social media—in the form of a closed web site—like Facebook and Twitter to reach study participants.
 
“That’s the way they get their news,” she says. “That’s the way they communicate. You have to reach them where they are.”
 
A Non-Fiction Life
 
When she’s not busy at work, Feinberg describes herself as an avid reader. And her genre of choice is fiction.
 
“My work life is non-fiction,” she explains. “What’s going on with my patients is non-fiction. All the reading and research and other stuff I have to do is non-fiction. So, when I can escape into someone else’s story, it feels so good. I was a Humanities major before I ever thought of going into medical school. So it’s really mother’s milk to me.”
 
She’s also loves to cook, is an avid gardener and a semi-pro photographer who loves to travel and take photographs. But the reality, she says, is “how much time do I have to do all these things? I have some real limitations.”
 
Despite the limitations her professional side places on her personal life, Feinberg is not about to introduce any changes. She says that her commitment to public health and research enables her to reach more people than she ever could as a practitioner.
 
“The fact that AIDS and HIV are now a manageable chronic condition when they started in 1982 as something that was uniformly lethal is amazing,” she says. “It’s nice to feel like you have made an impact. That makes all the long hours feel so much better.”


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