Pride 2021 greetings from alumnus Bill Larson

As part of our continued celebration of Pride 2021, we welcome the following message from one of our outstanding alumni, Bill Larson. Bill’s message does not simply serve to bring Pride greetings, but also aims to highlight the important, and somewhat unique, clinical practice he has for HIV patients. He also generously shares his personal story and his hopes for members of the College of Pharmacy community. As you read his story, reflect on how we turn his wish into reality and share your ideas with one another and college leadership. Many thanks to Bill for sharing!

Bill Larson standing in front of red and gold UMN wallI am pleased to bring you greetings for Pride 2021! What a year it has been! I am a HIV medication adherence pharmacist for Allina Health Uptown Clinic for the past 12 years. I serve low income HIV clients in the metro area and surrounding counties. A majority of our HIV clients are MSM (men who have sex with men). I love serving the HIV community and helping clients achieve and maintain good health through antiretroviral therapy. Adherence to daily medication has become so much simpler since Istarted this position, but many clients still struggle with adherence due to insurance issues, mental health problems, substance use, stigma, and other health inequities.

Bill with partner RichardMy connection to the LGBTQ+ community runs deep. When I started pharmacy school in 1978, no one spoke about sexuality openly. I never spoke about being gay. There was a “don’t ask, don’t tell” attitude. This attitude fortunately evolved as our community evolved, and over the years I have moved from a place of hiding and shame to one of cautious pride and finally to a recognition of the power that lies within me and my community. I married my long-time partner, Richard Space in 2014 at the McNamara Alumni Center. What a great day that was! That will forever be my proudest accomplishment.

I have mentored many pharmacy students throughout the years, and this has been richly rewarding. I am proud to serve as an ally to the recently established LGBTQIA+ student group at the College of Pharmacy. I also am a board member of the new Pride Affinity Group with the University of Minnesota Alumni Association. Progress is being made, but never easily. My wish for LGBTQIA+ students, faculty, staff and alumni at the College of Pharmacy is to feel more connected, and to feel more love and support from the University and all communities.

-“Bill” William Larson, PharmD AAHIVP, BCGP, BCACP (BS ‘81, PharmD ‘83)