Gay-Friendly Doctors in San Francisco
San Francisco is easily one of the gayest cities in America. The Castro was one of the nation’s first ‘gayborhoods’, and it’s still thriving today. The city played a major role in the gay liberation movement, acting as a west coast ally to New York after the Stonewall riots. And it’s the home of Harvey Milk, the pioneer who became the city’s first openly gay elected official. With the breadth of gay culture in The Golden City, one would think finding a gay-friendly doctor would be easy.
But message boards and forums are filled with comments from gay men who’ve faced difficulty finding great, unbiased healthcare. Though San Fran is home to a seemingly endless roster of doctors, singling out the ones who will be most helpful is tough. The following seven physicians should help ease your search.
Shawn Hessler, MD
Shawn Hessler is one-third of the Optimus Medical Group. This trio of doctors specializes not only in primary care but also internal medicine and HIV treatment. It’s the latter category that has won Hessler a legion of devoted gay patients. John K. writes, “I’ve had AIDS for most of my life. Shawn is by far the most knowledgeable, compassionate, supportive, and skilled physician I’ve met or worked with.” Hessler garnered his reputation through thorough and educational visits. He’s often commended for spending as much time with patients as they need. And he even appreciates those who do their research before the appointment. He’s a true asset to San Francisco’s gay community.
Jason Kauffman, DO
When you select a healthcare provider, you want excellent care and an open environment, all without emptying your wallet. Jason Kauffman satisfies all the criteria. “He’s very knowledgeable about health issues that affect gay men specifically. [He] works with you to ensure his recommendations won’t break your bank,” writes Peter-Christian P. Kauffman is a member of both the American Academy of HIV Medicine and the International Anal Neoplasia Society. With a focus on community-specific issues and cost-saving actions, it’s clear why he’s so revered.
William J. Kapla, MD
As part of Sutter Health, William J. Kapla is board-certified in family medicine and also works as an HIV Disease Specialist. He’s just as skilled as the other doctors on the list. But his competitive edge comes from the level of comfort he provides his patients. “He took plenty of time to answer my questions and was very friendly, approachable, and easy to talk to regardless of your lifestyle, orientation, etc.,” writes Jake K. Kapla understands that we’re not just looking for prescriptions. Connection is part of healthcare, too.
Gary Feldman, MD
Along with fellow Brown & Toland physician Mark Illeman, Gary Feldman has become one of San Francisco’s premiere gay-friendly doctors. This family practice isn’t just about familiarity with diagnosing infectious disease. Feldman is well-versed in everyday health issues that affect our community. “Any regular non-gay doctor is not very understanding about the problems that gay people experience in their (sex) life. These doctors are perfect [at] understanding the problematics we gay men undergo,” writes Styn V. Though HIV prevention and treatment is important for gay men, it’s also crucial that our doctors understand other complexities. This is where Feldman moves ahead of the pack.
William F. Owen, Jr., MD
William F. Owen’s practice extends far beyond what happens in the examination room. Many of his patients credit his deep knowledge base as the reason for their devotion. “Dr. Owen’s continually expanding store of knowledge in the treatment of HIV never ceases to amaze me. He has participated in every HIV conference no matter where in the world it was held and he always comes back to this practice refreshed and with incredible new insight,” raves Brian K. If you’re worried that your appointment might feel a bit like a biology lecture, fear not. Owen’s also known for his impeccable and friendly bedside manner.
Mark Higgins, MD
Unlike the other doctors on this list, Mark Higgins is located in the heart of the city’s gay mecca. He operates as part of WellSpring Medical Group, which sits on the northern border of the Castro. The location alone makes him gay-friendly by default. But the real proof is in the Yelp reviews. “As a gay man, it has been especially valuable to have a provider who is non-judgmental and comfortable with some of my specific health needs. Dr. Higgins balances directness and honesty with [those] needs,” writes Pop B. Higgins practices internal medicine. But clearly, his connection to the community is his other specialty.
Jesus Roland M. Gatpolintan, MD
Like Kapla, Jesus Roland M. Gatpolintan is affiliated with Sutter Health. However, he’s board-certified in infectious disease and internal medicine. He’s also a noted HIV disease specialist. His expertise is often celebrated by his patients, but it’s his demeanor that keeps them coming back. “My visit with Dr. Gatpolintan was simply the most comfortable and thorough annual physical I’ve ever received. He’s knowledgeable, friendly, direct, and comfortable talking about anything.” This praise is courtesy of Rob S. but there are several others just like it. Similar to Higgins, Gatpolintan understands his service is about much more than medical records.