CHAPTER 6: INFECTIOUS DSEASE POSTING.
Welcome to the Infectious Disease Clinic.
This is where you hear all kinds of stories that touch; from infidelity issues between partners, to sad cases of children born immunocompromised as a result of poor parental choices.
Infectious disease is a medical specialty dealing with the diagnosis, control and treatment of infections. The department typically serves to manage complex infections, especially those that pose a public health risk e.g. HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis on a long-term basis.
The focus of the care provided is to improve the quality of life in the patients, even when their medical conditions are incurable.
Infectious disease is one of the most emotionally-demanding specialties in Medicine. Dealing with HIV/AIDS infected patients especially requires a lot of courage as well as empathy.
During the posting, I saw patients from different walks of life coming in for treatment. Every typical person from your next-door neighbor to the colleague at work and that random guy on the street showed up at the clinic. While a few of these patients appeared emaciated, most of them looked healthy enough. Like my Nigerian folks would say “Aids no dey show for face.”
My Preceptor, Dr. J. Davy was on point. A classy doctor who knew her stuff and gave no room to be intimidated by the patients in her care. She always emphasized the need for safe sexual practices and reprimanded patients who were non-compliant with their medications.
As per HIV and other STIs, the message remains:
– BE FAITHFUL,
– Use a CONDOM.
Discretion on the ward was important and the status of most of our patients was coded. We had a few poor outcomes though and I recall how we lost a patient whose prognosis was really poor on our watch. As expected it evoked an emotional response, especially for the students. But we also had lots of patients who had been on antiretroviral medications for years and were doing fantastically.
Social issues were a main concern, as we had to deal with problems related to stigmatization, unemployment and substance use from time to time. Our patients got referred to the Psychologist or Social worker as the need arose.
As for patients who could not afford their antiretroviral medications, the government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines was kind enough to provide their basic treatment free of charge. Infected nursing mothers also received Baby formulas from time to time. Breastfeeding poses a risk of mother to child HIV transmission and it is recommended that such mothers should not breastfeed.
My Infectous disease posting was quite interesting and enlightening in every way. There was a lot to learn as regards related medical conditions and several management options. I had the opportunity to attend a health lecture (or better put as Symposium) for nurses/midwives, where lots of current practices were discussed.
If as an aspiring physician you are passionate about preventive medicine and public health issues, Infectious disease may be a good choice for you. But be warned, you’ll see lots of end-of-life cases with so many emotional strings attached.
To everyone, stay safe & cheers!
Thanks for reading.