Efforts in care and prevention keep HIV patients from being left behind
By Leo Moore
SAVANNE PERDU, Haiti—As a third year medical student at the Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM), my interests lie primarily in combining clinical practice and public health research in the fight against HIV/AIDS. HIV is currently a major killer in the African-American population in America as well as among the Haitian people. Although I was aware of this before arriving in Haiti, never did I imagine that I would actually have to diagnose a patient here.
Today, a 27-year-old woman arrived in the clinic complaining of loss of appetite, diarrhea, and weight loss over the past year. During her history, she admitted to having unprotected sex with multiple partners. On physical examination, I also noticed muscle wasting. These were classic signs of a patient with HIV. Project Medishare Program Coordinator Gabriele Denis and I decided to test the patient for HIV. Upon testing her for HIV, her test revealed a positive HIV status.
This news was devastating to me because I began to think about the possibilities of her being “lost to care” as we referred her to the nearest hospital. However, upon speaking with employees of Project Medishare, I was informed of some of the efforts currently in place to decrease the amount of patients that will die from lack of treatment. These efforts include, but are not limited to, an HIV/AIDS women’s group that meets in Thomonde and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) grant which will provide HIV education and prevention to the people of Haiti.
Experiencing patients like this young woman affirms the magnitude of this epidemic and the need for Project Medishare’s efforts here in Haiti. In returning to MSM, I will carry her story and the story of others in my memory as fuel to develop interventions and programs that will educate people on protection and treatment of this deadly virus.
Leo Moore is a third-year medical student at Morehouse School of Medicine. Moore wants to specialize in infectious disease.