The burden faced in South Africa is 1 000 new HIV infections daily, a large number of men who do not know their HIV status, and a high number of teenage girls who get infected daily by older men.
This is according to the Pro Vice-Chancellor of Research at UKZN and Director of CAPRISA, Professor Salim Abdool Karim, who said the message that needed to be conveyed to these older men was: ‘Leave our girls alone.’
Abdool Karim was addressing health clinicians in an HIV Workshop for health specialists and sharing insights into the epidemiology of HIV in South Africa.
The two-day workshop, hosted by CAPRISA and UKZN’s Department of Internal Medicine, was aimed at preventing unnecessary deaths through capacity building, and reinforcing interdisciplinary specialist collaboration so that specialists are able to identify their role in the management of HIV and TB disease when diagnosing, treating, monitoring, and managing infections and supporting patients.
The workshop hoped to familiarise specialists on their role in achieving the National and Global goal of the 90-90-90 strategy which tables a highly ambitious target of ending the AIDS epidemic by 2020 by ensuring that 90% of all people with HIV know their status, 90% of people diagnosed with HIV are on ART and 90% of people on ART should have their HIV viral load suppressed.
‘By 2030 we can achieve an HIV manageable nation if we can be radical in our healthcare approach by encouraging our communities to get tested, initiating ARVs as soon as possible, and managing and providing necessary support to patients,’ said the Head of Department in Internal Medicine at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Professor Nombulelo Magula.
The workshop afforded health specialists from all clinical care disciplines an opportunity and platform to share views and to identify their role in the management of HIV and TB.
‘Our goals are highly ambitious because we want to reverse the spread of HIV and if we want to achieve that, we need to work hand in hand,’ said Dr R Mngqibisa, an HIV Clinician and Director at the Enhancing Care Foundation.
‘We are not doing justice to the population if we do not give explanations and can’t provide patients with enough information on opportunistic infections but instead refer them to go and get tested,’ said Specialist Physician at UKZN Internal Medicine, Dr A Gounden. ‘As doctors we all have our own patient approach but counselling and compliance needs to be emphasised, especially when it comes to HIV and TB.’
‘A doctor-patient conversation is very central. Our jobs as clinicians entail talking with patients and that’s what we should do. Many patients default on taking their medication because there is no conversation between a patient and the doctor,’ said Dr Nokukhanya Msomi, a Pathologist in the Department of Virology.
Head of Department in Obstetrics and Gynaecology at UKZN, Dr Motshidiso Sebitloane, said over the years, the rate of mother-to-child transmissions had decreased by 30% in government hospitals since a guideline to get mothers tested every three months and when going to labour was introduced.