A Fight for Life

Shubha Kerkar wages battle against infectious disease



Ethan Kaminsky

Dr. Shubha Kerkar had no idea what awaited her when she moved to the Coachella Valley in 1991 and began working as an infectious disease specialist at Desert Regional Medical Center. In a matter of months, she was caring for more than 40 AIDS patients and managing a large infectious disease caseload. She introduced new treatment regimens and was one of the first in the area to use the antibiotic Bactrim to treat a serious bacterial infection that often strikes those with weakened immune systems.

“That’s how I became involved with the Desert AIDS Project, back when they were a two-room clinic,” Kerkar says. “This was a time when there were few choices for HIV therapy.”

Kerkar became director of infectious disease for DAP and today serves as a board member and as primary care physician for the organization. Now director of infectious diseases at Desert Regional Medical Center, Kerkar recently joined a consortium of local HIV clinicians looking to enhance treatment modalities.

A native of India, Kerkar completed her residency in internal medicine at Temple University School of Medicine and her fellowship in infectious disease at Hahnemann University Hospital, both in Philadelphia, a metropolitan area that has experienced high incidences of HIV/AIDS. “At some point, I needed to choose a specialty,” Kerkar recalls. “I felt infectious disease was calling to me. These were people of my generation who were getting sick and dying, and I could really relate to them.

“I was an intern in 1985 when anyone involved in medicine was involved in some way with HIV,” she says. “It was also a time when AIDS patients crashed and were dead before anyone could do anything.”

HIV/AIDS comprises about 50 percent of Kerkar’s caseload. In addition to her work at Desert AIDS Project and Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs, she serves on the infectious disease staff of Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage and is an associate professor in pharmacology for three universities: Loma Linda University, University of Southern California, and University of the Pacific.

“There are not enough hours in the day,” Kerkar says, counting time restraints as one of her greatest challenges. “I have young children, a 7-year-old and a 9-year-old, so I deal with both the guilt and the gratification that work brings.” But she won’t give up; in fact, she and her children take karate classes together three days a week. “I absolutely love what I do."
Edit Module
Palm Springs Life
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Related Articles

Louis Vuitton Will Showcase Cruise Collection at Bob Hope's Palm Springs Estate

French fashion house Louis Vuitton will showcase its second Cruise collection May 6 using the Bob and Dolores Hope Estate in Palm Springs as a backdrop.

But Do Not Use the Rotted Names

Many of the instincts and sentiments to which we were born and bred are not a resonant and forward-looking match for us as individuals or for us collectively in the cosmopolitan and connected world we live in today.

Well-Deserved Relaxation

Mom deserves a little pampering on her special day; here are a few of the valley's best treatments and the spas that offer them.

Palm Springs Art Museum Architecture and Design Center Earns Docomomo Award

The Palm Springs Art Museum Architecture and Design Center, Edwards Harris Pavilion has been recognized by Docomomo US’ 2015 Modern in America Awards with a Design Award of Excellence.

LeAnn Rimes, Natalie La Rose Entertain Packed White Party Palm Springs T-Dance

LeAnn Rimes, Natalie La Rose, and Glee star Alex Newell closed out a windy and wild weekend of the 26th annual White Party Palm Springs, considered to be the largest gay men's party in the world.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Promotions + Contests

2014/15 Best of the Best

2014/15 Best of the Best

Palm Springs Life’s annual Best of the Best. Readers tell us who their choice is for the “Best of the Best” of the Coachella Valley in over 40 categories.
GuestLife Magical Monterey Bay Experience

GuestLife Magical Monterey Bay Experience

Palm Springs Life's Women in Business

Palm Springs Life's Women in Business

Winner profiles will be highlighted in a special section in Palm Springs Life’s May 2014 issue. Nominate Your Top Women in Business!
Pets on Parade 2015 Photo Contest

Pets on Parade 2015 Photo Contest

Enter your “Cutest Pet” photo in the Pets on Parade 2015 Photo Contest. Online users will be able to like the Cutest Pet photos from six (6) categories.
Cartoon Caption Contest

Cartoon Caption Contest

Each month, we provide a vintage 1950’s cartoon illustrated by Alice Rovinsky. You are invited to submit a caption or vote for your favorite caption.