To mark World AIDS Day on Sunday 1 December, we spent time with Dr Liz Hamlyn, HIV Consultant and Clinical Lead to find out more about her role in the HIV service.
Dr Hamlyn has been a consultant at King’s since 2011. “I decided to specialise in HIV because it covers a multitude of areas: public health, psycho-social care and science – the advancements in treatment has been phenomenal,” she says.
“Each week is different. Some are spent on the wards seeing inpatients and others in meetings and outpatient clinics, which I’m doing this week.”
08.30: When she arrives at work Dr Hamlyn checks her emails and responds to clinical queries about the patients she’s caring for.
09.00: Dr Hamlyn joins the multi-disciplinary team meeting alongside other doctors, nurses and support workers to discuss the HIV inpatients who will be seen today during the morning ward round.
In the meeting the team discuss 15 patients, three of whom were diagnosed through the universal testing programme in our Emergency Department, which was initially funded by the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
Dr Hamlyn explains, “The testing initiative aims to significantly decrease late diagnosis rates in Lambeth and Southwark – areas currently recognised as having the highest HIV prevalence rates in the UK. So far, more than 90 people have been diagnosed with HIV who previously did not know that they had the virus.”
“One of the most common reasons people develop complications is because they don’t know they have the infection. Our universal testing scheme is a big step forward in addressing this issue,” she adds.
10.04: This week another of the HIV Consultants is doing the ward round so Dr Hamlyn attends a histopathology meeting to review biopsy results. “This is to ensure the correct diagnosis is made and the right treatment is given,” she says.
11.05: Along with members of her team Dr Hamlyn attends a training session. “It’s important we all keep our skills and knowledge up-to-date for the benefit of our patients,” she says.
12.01: Dr Hamlyn attends a meeting to discuss the Fast Track Cities project, which aims to get London to zero new diagnoses by 2030 by encouraging testing, early diagnosis and treatment, and reducing stigma.
13.00: After getting some lunch Dr Hamlyn discusses a safeguarding case with one of the nurses. They talk about a young, vulnerable patient who is reluctant to engage with the HIV service so may need a referral to the safeguarding team.
15.07: After two further meetings – one with a doctor in training to discuss patient outcomes and a one-to-one with a nurse – Dr Hamlyn attends her second MDT ahead of the afternoon young persons’ clinic.
The doctors, nurses, psychologist and support worker discuss the teens and young adults coming into clinic this evening. Some have acquired HIV during birth and others through sexual contact. They talk about the symptoms, treatment, psychological and social support each patient requires.
“When HIV is detected and treated early, antiretroviral medication can be so effective the virus can become undetectable in some patients, meaning they can no longer pass the virus on to others,” Dr Hamlyn explains.
The team also talk about the small number of young people not willing to engage with treatment and whether they need to be referred to psychology or for peer support.
“With the medicines now available HIV is a treatable condition so it’s vitally important patients comply with the treatment regime if they want to remain healthy and not risk passing on the infection,” Dr Hamlyn says.
16.08: Clinic begins and will go on until 8pm. “We try our best to make clinic times convenient for our patients so they don’t have to take time out of school, college or work. I’ll work late this evening but will finish earlier on Friday, she says.
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