1st Clinical Course on HIV and opportunistic infections in Oé-Cusse
Fighting against stigma and for early detection of HIV are “winable challenges”
23 doctors from health posts and centers and the Oé-Cusse Regional Hospital are, from today, May 13, 2019, until the 17th, attending the 1st Clinical Course on HIV and opportunistic infections, in an initiative of the Administrative Region Special Oé-Cusse Ambeno (RAEOA – ZEESM – TL), with the support of the Ministry of Health and the East Timorese Laboratory and energized and financed by the UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund). This training course takes place at Clínica do Coração’s new facilities.
“Timor-Leste and Oé-Cusse have an important opportunity: to fight HIV while their prevalence rate is low,” said UNFPA representative Ronny Lindstrom at the opening session of the 1st HIV Clinical Course and opportunistic infections in Oé-Cusse. “For the success of this challenge, which we have called 90-90-90 (90% of all people with HIV are informed of their condition; 90% of all people diagnosed with HIV receive long-term antiretroviral therapy; 90% of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy have viral suppression) it is necessary to provide health professionals, doctors, nurses and midwives with the necessary tools not only to diagnose and treat patients but also to educate the population and reduce stigma and discrimination associated with HIV”, said Ronny Lindstrom. “People have to know that they can take the test without being judged and their privacy will be respected, only then will we be able to guarantee a timely diagnosis,” he explained. On the other hand, “the community must know that, diagnosed and treated, people with HIV can live productive, happy and complete lives, that is, with the same life expectancy as the others. Only in this way will we be able to put an end to the tragedy revealed by a recent report of discrimination: 31% of the patients participating in this study reported being marginalized by society, family and friends included; some have even been verbally or physically mistreated, abandoned or expelled from home”, he warned. “Timor-Leste is fortunate to have a low HIV prevalence rate and people with HIV are fortunate to have free access to antiretroviral medication, but this is a infection that can grow fast in Timor-Leste, so time to act with good results is now”, he added, noting that HIV has “a strong impact on the community, both socially and economically”. “We need more tests, more knowledge, more awareness and more understanding,” he said, expressing UNFPA’s willingness to remain a partner in the struggle to improve the quality of life in Oé-Cusse.
In a session that was also attended by Dr. Sheena Viegas, from the Ministry of Health; Dr. Maria Dolores, of the National Laboratory; and Mr. Marcos Seo, Acting Director of Health, the President’s Deputy Regional Secretary for support in coordination of the areas of Education, Social, Health and Administration, Arsenio Bano, emphasized, on behalf of the President of the Authority, HE Dr. Mari Alkatiri, absent for reasons of agenda, that “the challenge is great but it is possible”. Thanking all those present and everyone who has made this course possible, namely Dr. Danina Coelho, PA Health Advisor, and the representatives of the partner entities, Arsenio Bano assumed the ambition of the Region in terms of more and better health for all. “It will take time, it will involve doctors and other health professionals, families, the whole community, but it is possible and it is possible in Oé-Cusse that, as the President of the Authority always remembers, must be an example to the rest of the country. This is our job, let’s do it”, he concluded, fulfilling the ritual of hitting the table to start the work.
Until Friday, May 17, 2019, the 23 participating physicians will address, among others, topics such as HIV diagnosis, opportunistic infections, treatment in adults and adolescents, prophylaxis, stigma and discrimination, and prevention of mother-to-child transmission.