STEP Story: Abigail Nimz

4th Year Medical Student, University of Colorado, Denver
Kisumu, January 2016

Abigail NimzAs a 4th year medical student I was excited to return to Kenya and continue research on prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV. I first came to Kenya in 2013 and worked on data collection for a cohort of infants receiving extended nevirapine prophylaxis. I felt so lucky to be a part of the healthcare team, observe HIV care in action at the clinics and explore Nyanza province to collect data at different sites. I was impressed with the mentorship, friendships, learned Kiswahili kidogo (a little bit) and enjoyed Kenyan food and culture!

Since my last visit in Kenya, there have been changes to the recommendations for PMTCT including the initiation of Option B+. With Option B+ all pregnant women are initiated on antiretroviral treatment for life at the time of HIV diagnosis, regardless of CD4 count or clinical stage. The benefits of Option B+ include prevention of mother-to child transmission, improving maternal health and continuity of care. Because this clinical change was relatively new, we wanted to evaluate viral load suppression, patient retention and infant outcomes. We also wanted to see what challenges providers and patients were experiencing so we could improve the PMTCT services. I really enjoyed working with the PMTCT team to address challenges and collect data, I was constantly impressed with the quality of care they provided to the mothers and infants!

It was wonderful to be back in Kenya! Kisumu feels like home and I really enjoyed coming back to work with everyone and learn even more about HIV care. Highlights included morning greetings to the friendly FACES team, eating ugali, visiting Rongo and Ruma National Park and listening to popular Kenyan songs! Can’t wait until my next visit!