Journal: The Open AIDS Journal
Authors: K. Bowa, B. Kawimbe, D. Mugala, D. Musowoya, A. Makupe, M. Njobvu, C. Simutowe
HIV has a significant impact on surgery in Africa. Its’ influence has spanned a period of about 30 years. In the 1980s’ Africa experienced a rise in the national prevalence of HIV spreading across East Africa through Southern Africa, and reaching peak prevalence in the Southern African region. These prevalence levels have affected four key areas of surgical practice; namely patient care, practice of surgery, surgical pathologies, the practitioner and more recently prevention.
The surgical patient is more likely to be HIV positive in Africa, than elsewhere in the world. The patients are also more likely to have co infection with Hepatitis C or B and are unlikely to be aware of his or her HIV status. Surgical patients are also more likely to have impaired liver and renal function at the time of presentation. Therefore, HIV has affected the pattern of surgical pathologies, by influencing disease presentation, diagnosis, management and outcomes. It has also influenced the surgeon by increasing occupational risk and management of that risk. Recently in an ironic change of roles, surgery has impacted HIV prevention through the role of male circumcision as a significant tool in HIV prevention, which has traditionally focused on behavioural interventions.
The story of surgery and HIV continues to unfold on the continent. Ultimately presenting a challenge which requires innovation, dedication and hard work in the already resource limited environments of Africa.