Allies for Health + Wellbeing Welcomes New Staff to Continue Fulfilling Mission

Dr. Yijia Li. Photo courtesy of Allies for Health + Wellbeing.

Allies for Health + Wellbeing recently welcomed Dr. Yijia Li (he/him) to their health services team. Dr. Li will be seeing patients part-time in the Allies clinic.

“I did my research back in China on HIV and hepatitis B,” said Li. “It’s a very cutting-edge area. As I was doing the research part, I had exposure to seeing the HIV care back in China and really get to know this group of people.

“From both a research perspective and a clinical care perspective, there’s a lot to do in this area.”

Li learned about Allies through his mentor, Dr. Ken Ho, who is a longtime board member and supporter of Allies, as well as through Allies’ social media channels. Having worked with and received care from organizations like Allies, Li is excited to bring his expertise to the Allies team.

“As a gay man, I think this is an opportunity to serve the community using my expertise,” he said.

Li, who also works at UPMC as a clinical assistant professor, studied medicine at Tsinghua University and Peking Union Medical College in China. He came to Pittsburgh in 2016 and did his residency at UPMC Presbyterian, followed by three years at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

Li lives on the North Shore with his partner, Isaac.

Also joining the health services team is Becky Altman, CRNP, FNP-BC, WHNP-BC, MPH, AAHIVS (she/her), who will be seeing patients in the Allies clinic as a nurse practitioner.

Altman didn’t immediately start her career in the healthcare field. Though she studied social work at Chatham University, she had her sights set on other things

“I thought I was going to be a documentary filmmaker,” she said. But while doing filming and research around health disparities, she discovered that she wanted to take direct action. “It was one of those things where you can research all these inequities, or you can do something about them.”

She earned a Master of Public Health degree at the University of Pittsburgh and got her nursing and nurse practitioner degrees at the University of Pennsylvania.

Altman lived and worked in Philadelphia for 13 years, at Planned Parenthood and The Mazzoni Center, among other positions, before returning to Pittsburgh in May 2019. Prior to coming to Allies, Altman worked at Metro Community Health Center/Metro Family Practice.

In addition to HIV care, Altman has extensive experience in gender-affirming care and complete gynecological care, including family planning, Pap smears, and well-woman visits. She is excited about the latest advances in HIV treatment, such as long-acting injectables for HIV treatment and PrEP.

“PrEP is another passion of mine, especially non-traditional PrEP patients,” Altman said. Women in heterosexual relationships are an example of non-traditional candidates for PrEP. “It’s really important to engage those populations.”

Altman, who lives in Brighton Heights with her husband, Bryan, and several pets, says she considers herself a holistic provider.

“I just try to make myself an extremely approachable provider,” she said. “I am always happy to see folks wherever they’re at.”

Additionally, nine more staff members recently joined the Allies team including Sandra Brewer (she/her) in Health Services as a medical assistant, Gina DiPaolo (she/her), who previously worked as a health advocate, has taken the position of data management specialist, Renee Fockler (she/her/they/them) in Health Services as a health advocate, Shannen Jarrett (she/her) as a clinical nurse, Brian LaVoie (he/him) and Justine Nyquist (she/her) in Client Services as case managers, Tina Rubottom (she/her) serving as administrative assistant, Zac Scarpaci (he/him) as HR coordinator, and Stacey Sindlinger (she/her) as legal case manager.

Allies for Health + Wellbeing provides integrated medical care, supportive human services, and community-based education for individuals living with, or at risk of HIV, viral hepatitis, or sexually transmitted infections. For three decades, Allies has provided comprehensive treatment and support for HIV-positive individuals, as well as primary and specialty medical care for the community regardless of HIV status. 

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