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Ligia Peralta, M.D.

photo of Ligia Peralta, M.D.

Ligia Peralta, M.D., F.A.A.P., F.S.A.H.M. is Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Epidemiology, Chief Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine, and Director of the Adolescent HIV Program of the Department of Pediatrics, University of Maryland School of Medicine.

Dr. Peralta, who has successfully combined her roles as pediatrician and adolescent medicine specialist, professor, researcher, and patient and community advocate, is honored for her pioneer and indefatigable work to fight the HIV epidemic among young people in Maryland and abroad. She has addressed the health disparities of HIV-infected and vulnerable adolescents by creating innovative programs to provide them with access to primary care services and research. She has lead the youth HIV movement in Maryland by developing and evaluating community-based HIV prevention, education and testing programs, clinical services, and research initiatives for behaviorally HIV-infected adolescents and at-risk youth. Dr. Peralta developed the “One Stop Shopping” model of service for adolescent and young adults, which include anonymous, confidential, and free HIV testing and counseling, specialized gynecological examinations such as colposcopy, sexual abuse counseling, substance abuse counseling and treatment, pharmacy, dental care, psychosocial, legal and human trafficking services, and research. This model of comprehensive care at a single site has been successful in engaging and retaining youth in care and has been recognized as a national and international model of care for programs seeking to provide services to adolescents.

Inspiration for her lifelong vocation came early for Dr. Peralta. Her father, Dr. Ruben Peralta, was the Head of Surgery and Director for many years at the regional hospital in the heart of the Dominican Republic. A passionate believer in universal access to health care and in preventive medicine, he used all public and private resources at his disposal to provide the best possible medical services to all regardless of their capacity to pay. His remarkable spirit of public service included the many weekends when he would take his two young children to the most remote, mountainous areas of his country to provide free screenings and vaccinations. Those early experiences with her father forged her commitment to excellence through education and medicine in the service of others.

Her medical education started in her country at age 15, where she was one of six medical students to graduate (summa cum laude) from an entering class of one hundred. It was her successful treatment of a 13 month-old boy dying of tuberculosis during her rotations which narrowed her choice to pediatrics. Both the patient and his mother were malnourished and she noticed how the baby ate when he saw her (she lived far away and could only visit occasionally), so Dr. Peralta started stockpiling extra food for the mother.

Her voluntary work also honors the memory of her father who passed away in 2003. She created Casa Ruben, a not-for-profit, to continue and expand her voluntary work and to honor her father.

She is the recipient of the 2000 Latinos of Distinction Award conferred by the Food and Drug Administration and the White House. She is the first Latina serving in the National HIV Task Force to establish treatment guidelines for children and adolescents.

Biography courtesy of the Maryland Commission for Women, 2011.

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