GPs Meet to Discuss HIV Management
General Practitioners (GPs) in the private sector are in the spotlight as Metropolitan Health Risk Management teams up with the Western Cape Government Health and the Southern African HIV Clinicians' Society to ensure that HIV positive patients receive the highest quality of care.
The partnership arose after research done by the HIV YourLife Programme of Metropolitan Health Risk Management revealed that 60% of pregnant women who receive private health care are not being screened for HIV, compared to just 5% in the public health sector who routinely receive testing.
"We realised that we, as the private sector, had an important role to play in helping the Department of Health to achieve its national objectives," said Siraaj Adams, Executive Manager for the HIV YourLife Programme.
At a networking event attended by GPs and healthcare professionals in Cape Town yesterday, 28 May 2013, Adams revealed initiatives to improve HIV testing and also to combat STIs.
"We are encouraging HIV testing and screening of all patients, especially pregnant women," he explained.
The HIV YourLife Programme is also promoting other preventative screenings and is encouraging STI and cervical cancer screening for women. For men, STI and HIV testing are becoming routine and Metropolitan is also partnering with the Department of Health to encourage medical male circumcision.
At the event, Western Cape Minister of Health, Theuns Botha, welcomed the initiative.
"We have seen the value of the partnerships we entered into with Metropolitan Health Risk Management last year, which increased the access to HIV counselling and testing services to Metropolitan Health clients. We welcome the opportunity to partner with the private sector to implement the Medical Male Circumcision programme and to reach our goals together," he said.
Minister Botha said the need for the programme was clear, with his department falling short of its target of 35 000 circumcisions in 2012 / 2013 by over 20 000.
"The Western Cape Government Health Department has secured a two-year contract for the supply of medical male circumcision packs at R117.25 each. This contract expires in August 2014, so we hope to perform as many circumcisions as possible before this time," Minister Botha said.
"We are also working with the HIV Clinicians' Society to improve awareness related toxicity management of patients who are taking antiretrovirals," Adams said. “We are concerned about evidence of increased renal failure among patients who are taking the tenofovir-based fixed-dose combination drugs due to poor kidney function monitoring.”
These drugs have been commonly prescribed in the private sector and data collected by the HIV YourLife Programme has shown the need for regular kidney monitoring.
The Cape Town networking event was part of a series of roadshows designed to increase engagement and to help the private sector doctors to deal with issues surrounding HIV prevention, treatment and ongoing management.