Q&A: Top Doctor Carrie Horwitch on Being an HIV Care Specialist and Why America Needs Universal Health Care

Horwitch is an internal medicine specialist at Virginia Mason who sees patients throughout their lifetime

By Erika Almanza Brown March 29, 2018


This article originally appeared in the April 2018 issue of Seattle Magazine.

This article appears in print in the April 2018 issue, as part of the Top Doctors cover story. Click here to subscribe.

Why did you choose this specialty?
Internal medicine spans the breadth of a patient’s lifetime as an adult. We cover the broad expanse of medical conditions, including end-of-life care. It is a cognitive specialty that requires listening skills, understanding the patient story and reasoning about the cause of a particular issue for the patient, much like solving a mystery. My goal is to help my patients live a healthier, better quality of life.

What are your areas of special interest?
I am an HIV care specialist, in addition to general internal medicine. I have been taking care of people with HIV since the early 1990s. I think HIV is unique in that it is a chronic infectious disease but also contributes to other health issues. If untreated, it can be devastating. However, excellent treatment is available that reduces mortality and improves quality of life. 


Is there a recent development that you’re excited about? 
I think the advancement of antiretroviral treatment options for those with HIV has been one of the true highlights of the 20th century. Through these better therapies, we have reduced death from HIV/AIDS by more than 75 percent. 

What are the most important things that patients can do to stay healthy or improve their health? 
Patients can stay healthier by being active—exercising, doing activities with others—laughing more, eating a healthy diet, being vaccinated against diseases and avoiding unhealthy or dangerous behaviors, such as smoking, using drugs and drinking alcohol to excess. If someone has a chronic disease, having a good doctor-patient relationship, staying on necessary medications and avoiding unnecessary treatments or procedures are also very important. 

Is there a new or emerging health threat that you are concerned about, and if so, what steps can patients take to reduce their risk? 
I think one of the biggest threats to health is the lack of universal health coverage and access to care. Our nation is the only higher-income country that does not provide affordable coverage to all people who live here. We need to work in nonpartisan fashion to change this. 

What’s the most important thing that patients should pay attention to when choosing a doctor? 
I think one of the key issues is to have a physician that listens to the patient’s story and meets the patient where they are. 

What’s the most fun—outside of medicine—that you’ve recently had? 
I’m a certified laughter leader and teach laughter therapy. I have a lot of fun with this as a way to stay healthy, get exercise and improve overall well-being. I also love to travel and hope to do more in the coming years. 

Join The Must List

Sign up and get Seattle's best events delivered to your inbox every week.

Follow Us

Top Doctors 2022

Top Doctors 2022

Seattle magazine’s 22nd annual list of the best physicians in the Puget Sound region

Many people have no idea how to find a doctor. They often rely on recommendations from friends or colleagues, or whomever their health system suggests. Personal referrals matter, but, in partnership with Castle Connolly, we’ve created a comprehensive guide of notable doctors throughout the Puget Sound area. For more than two decades, Seattle magazine has…

Top Doctors 2021: A Human Touch

Top Doctors 2021: A Human Touch

Dr. Eric Chen realized he enjoyed working with patients after an initial interest in research

Name: Eric Chen, M.D., PhD. Practice and Hospital Affiliation: Hematology and medical oncology, Kaiser Permanente Bellevue Medical Center and Overlake Hospital Why did you pick your specialty? Research is what initially drew me into the field. Although I enjoyed research in the laboratory, had wonderful research mentors and considered it as a career, working directly with…

Top Doctors 2021: A Life-Changing Experience

Top Doctors 2021: A Life-Changing Experience

Her father’s heart attack persuaded Dr. Sara Weiss to become a cardiologist

Name: Sara Weiss, M.D.  Practice and Hospital Affiliation: Cardiology, Virginia Mason Medical Center Why did you pick your specialty? When I was in college, my father had a heart attack but didn’t recognize the symptoms. He did not seek medical attention until a significant amount of heart damage had occurred. Thankfully, with the help of…

Top Doctors 2021: A Reassuring Voice

Top Doctors 2021: A Reassuring Voice

Colon and rectal surgery is ‘interesting and rewarding’

Name: Ulrik Wallin, M.D., Ph.D. Practice and Hospital Affiliation: Colon and rectal surgery, The Polyclinic Colon & Rectal Surgery (located at The Polyclinic Broadway), affiliated with Swedish First Hill. Why did you pick your specialty? I feel fortunate to be a colorectal surgeon because of the variety of ways I can help people. Many patients who see…