“HIV updated instantly!!!”
We are both Paediatrics Residents in Makerere University College of Health Sciences. I am Ugandan, while my colleague is Tanzanian by nationality.
We expected to learn more about HIV prevention, management protocols, and future prospects. These expectations were met during the PentaTr@ining course!
The challenges to successful HIV treatment in Uganda include:
- Drug stock outs
- Non-disclosure, especially among adolescents, which contributes to non-suppression of viral load
- We previously had no 3rd line treatment available to patients at no cost, but that is improving in the centers of excellence
- We still have mothers who transmit HIV to their children
- Obtaining paediatric / single drug formulations when dose adjustments need to be made like in renal failure, yet tenofovir alafenamide is not readily available
- Some pastors tell the patients that they are cured of HIV and they stop taking their medication, then eventually they return to hospital with advanced disease.
The training helped us to see more strategies for improved patient care, drug options available globally, and adolescent friendly HIV care (through the peer-to-peer interaction). The future prospects in HIV strategies and research gave us insight into better patient counseling and care, based on evidence shared in Zanzibar.
Our professional practice improved a bit, in that we followed evidence based protocols and answered some patients’ questions about ongoing research on injectable medications and a possible vaccine/cure. Being Residents in the National Referral Hospital only provided us opportunity to share the knowledge with fellow residents and counsel caretakers about the evidence available, but we were unable to influence administrative decisions necessary to improve HIV care.
The most important impact that the PentaTr@ining courses can provide for us is evidence based practice in HIV care, so as to avail of options for the management of drug side-effects, opportunistic infections and HIV. That ought to also include insight into steps away from long-term treatment and a vaccine/cure. Peer-to-peer interactions, especially with Adolescent peer educators has been very impactful too.
The evidence base for protocols followed in HIV care (children, adolescent and adults) is the added value that the Penta ID Network gives to HIV & Paediatric Infectious Disease healthcare.
We would like our peers to know that HIV is a global challenge, which is only controlled by ART & behavioural change, but a lot of research is ongoing to inform health workers about comprehensive care and a possible vaccine/cure.
More health education messages, tailored to different age groups can be created and conveyed to the different audiences. For example: cartoons, animations, stage plays, high-school movies, musicals, speaker-vans driving through rural areas, flyers/job aids with pictorial messages in different languages stating the message in brief and radio/television talk shows that help people to receive messages and then call in to get clarification or answers to questions.
We believe it is important to continue talking about HIV infection in order to sensitize people to the infection so as to reduce transmission, answer questions that arise in communities, dispel any myths, clarify misconceptions and help to reduce stigma in society.
We think there is a strong social stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS because people fear getting infected! Some people have no knowledge about the infection – there are myths in some societies and many people have died from the infection. So, some people think HIV diagnosis is a ‘death-sentence’, leading to the attitudes towards those who are diagnosed with it.
I have attended and participated in other medical training courses in the past, but they usually had trainers only from within Africa. By contrast, PentaTr@ining gave us a great opportunity to interact with trainers from all over the world. The interactions, meals and environment in Zanzibar made the training memorable!