Dr. Ken Ho thought that he would become a primary care physician and go into practice with his father but found himself drawn to work with HIV instead.
“I graduated residency in 2007 and then took a position in the HIV clinic,” Ho said. “I had a blast – it was so wonderful.”
He then completed his infectious disease fellowship and established the PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) clinic at UPMC in 2013.
Today, Ho is the medical director of the Pitt Men’s Study, works with the clinical trials unit at the University of Pittsburgh, teaches at the University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health, serves on the board of Shepherd Wellness Community and Jewish Healthcare Foundation, works with AIDS Free Pittsburgh and still sees his own patients for HIV treatment and for PrEP. He also was part of a team that responded to the mpox outbreak during the summer of 2022.
Now, Ho is being honored for his work with the 2023 Kerry Stoner Award. Stoner was one of the founders of the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force and died of complications of AIDS in 1993. The Kerry Stoner Award is presented annually by Allies for Health + Wellbeing to someone who has shown commitment to Stoner’s legacy and vision. The award will be presented as part of the Allies Ball and Free for All, Allies’ annual benefit gala, on Friday, May 26, at the Children’s Museum.
“There was no question that Ken Ho would be the recipient of this year’s Kerry Stoner Award,” said Sean DeYoung, CEO of Allies for Health + Wellbeing. “His dedication to HIV research and treatment is unmatched, as is his support for the HIV/AIDS community in Pittsburgh.”
“HIV and HIV prevention – it became my life,” Ho said. “There was a spark. This was just so much fun and made so much sense to me, and these opportunities emerged.”
Ho credits much of his success to being in the right place at the right time with the right people. “The individual isn’t so important – it’s the work that we do together.”
Through his work with the Pitt Men’s Study, Ho knew of the historical relationship between the Pitt Men’s Study and the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force. He recalled that PATF board member Bart Rauluk, director of client services, finance and administration at Veritas Communication Advisors LLC, asked him to join the board. Ho came to PATF just as it was expanding to include clinical services in addition to case management.
“Being part of the development of that idea was really neat,” Ho said. “I got to see that process through.”
“Dr. Ho is an exceptional person that brings the very best of patient care and research knowledge to both Allies and our community at large,” said Rauluk, who continues to serve on Allies’ board. “He provides a rare expertise that has helped Allies excel in patient care, advocacy and our strategy of sustainability. His role at Allies will be remembered for years to come.”
After seeing other people receive the Kerry Stoner Award for their work with HIV/AIDS in Pittsburgh, Ho said his reaction to learning that he was the 2023 recipient was “Oh my God, this is actually happening!”
“It’s a huge honor,” he said. “I’m very thankful to be here, to be in Pittsburgh and to have ties to the Pittsburgh community. You do this work, and it’s sort of impossible not to be part of the community you serve.”
But Ho is quick to share the credit for his work. “It shouldn’t be about me – it’s about community. I’m here because of the work of so many people who came before me,” he said. “There are so many others who deserve it.”
Ho, who is a Maryland native, lives in Squirrel Hill with his husband, Dr. Keith Stowell.