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Specialty Clinic: HIV & Immune Support

By Dr. Janet Mandell, DOM

Specialty clinics, intended to serve populations dealing with specific health issues, are popular at the SWAC clinic for student interns and patients alike. Spring 2016 semester saw the advent of the Immune Support clinic at SWAC’s Santa Fe campus. The idea for this clinic began several years ago with the HIV Support Clinic at the Albuquerque campus. Pharmaceutical treatments have enabled many people with HIV to live relatively healthy lives for decades, but these patients may experience side effects resulting from long-term use of medications. Acupuncture treatments can significantly improve the quality of life of these patients by strengthening energy, improving sleep and digestion, and promoting relaxation and relieving stress. The HIV Support Clinic ran for many semesters at the Albuquerque campus and was always booked.

When the SWAC Albuquerque campus was consolidated at the Santa Fe campus in 2015, Clinic Director, Dr. Melanie Richardson, expanded the HIV Support Clinic outreach to include patients with other immune system conditions. Autoimmune disease is seen increasingly at the acupuncture clinic; according to the Center for Disease Control, autoimmune disease affects approximately 8% of the population, and the rates of these diseases are steadily increasing. These diseases are various, often affecting the neurological, musculoskeletal and digestive systems, causing pain, fatigue and loss of function.

Interns in this clinic learn and practice a traditional style of Japanese Meridian Therapy (JMT), which is ideally suited to the immune compromised patient because of its gentle approach. JMT uses very thin needles placed superficially in the body to regulate the flow of ki energy. Specially designed sterling silver tools are used to press and stoke acupuncture points and meridians to stimulate the flow of ki, resulting in a comfortable, relaxing treatment. After treatment, patients report increased energy, relief from pain, increased functioning and even a better outlook on life. For the student interns, and for this clinic supervisor, it is very gratifying to provide this service to our community.

Dr. Janet Mandell, DOM, is a clinic supervisor at the Santa Fe campus and has a private practice in Santa Fe.