Milestones – 2017-present
In 2017, Dr. Robert Jeffrey Edwards, a specialist doctor with a wealth of experience in HIV, sexually transmitted infections (STI’s), Dermatology and Public Health, and a longtime associate of the MRFTT, accepted the leadership role of Executive Clinical Advisor of the organization, upon Professor Bartholomew’s retirement.
Ably assisted by his Deputy Director, Dr. Gregory Boyce the MRFTT leadership now lead their multi-disciplinary team to continue to provide the gold standard health care to clients, using sound scientific knowledge and research principles in a dynamic and ever changing health care environment.
Led by Dr. Edwards, the MRFTT has witnessed changes to its function and structure, and new and innovative approaches have been, and are being undertaken to meet the complexities that long term HIV treatment and care present.
The important need to retain clients in care has been met with a multi-pronged approach to contact clients via dedicated contact tracers, who provide psycho-social support and counseling as they engage clients and seek to mobilize them back to care and get them re-started on treatment. Both short term and long term defaulters are targeted and strategies are undertaken to maintain a better retention in care, and subsequent adherence on anti-retroviral therapy.
One important strategy to support the retention in care initiative is the extended clinic services with an Evening Clinic and early morning service. To date, these have proved to be very successful as clients can access treatment and care at non-traditional hours and as a result are less likely to default.
Specialized monthly clinics were started to meet specific client needs. The Adolescent Clinic was started to provide a service to HIV infected individuals who transitioned from Paediatric care to MRFTT’s adult care setting. The specialized services were created to meet specific criteria and the clinic has been successful in fulfilling its mission.
The Prison Clinic was started to shift access to care from MRFTT to one main prison site and this therefore would better meet imprisoned client’s needs in their familiar setting. The initiative highly supported by the Commissioner of Prisons has been successful in its mandate and has fostered improved safety, effectiveness, reach of care and resulted in an improved working relationship between the prison system and the MRFTT.
The Men’s clinic is in keeping with international trends to make specialized services available to men, particularly HIV positive men. The full suite of services is designed to meet clients at different stages on the health continuum and work with them to provide medical, psycho-social care and peer support.
A vaccine programme was also started by Dr.Edwards with the aim of preventing illness and promoting wellness for clients, especially in the provision of the HPV vaccine as it aims to prevent cervical cancer, one of the HIV-associated cancers.
In July 2020 the Saturday Women’s Health Clinic was started with the aim of detecting and preventing cervical cancer by providing Pap smears to clients. This is especially important as cervical cancer is an HIV associated cancer. The clinic is augmented by health education, breast examinations, general wellness checks and HPV vaccinations.