The Physician

Kevin Peterson helps people with HIV in The Gambia keep to their treatment.    

I work in HIV care, at an African research station that offers clinical services. I’m a specialist physician: my role is clinic director. I also teach and influence policy development in Africa.

In my research, I want to find out how healthcare workers can identify people who may benefit from extra care to help them stick to their medicine regime.

Research of this sort could improve health and quality of life in people with chronic diseases that have no cure. I look at HIV, but mental illness, drug addiction, diabetes, hypertension and even processes of ageing could also benefit from this type of research.

I spend my time communicating with colleagues and co-workers to develop ideas about what will work best in our care system, using a combination of e-mails, memos, meetings, and one-on-one discussions. On some days I may be involved directly in patient care or teaching students how to deal with patients. I generally communicate with the patients through translators, because they don’t understand English.

Through what I do, I learn about the way the world works – good and bad. I’m making a difference but I’m also seeing the same problems come back – ones that I thought were already dealt with.

I consider that I am still at an early stage in my career; I am not new to this field and have held similar positions of responsibility, but there’s much more I will learn before claiming to be a master in my subject areas. Before I was in Africa, I worked in California, where I trained in public health and psychology.  

Kevin Peterson, HIV physician and researcher, The Gambia

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