Dr Francesca Conradie – HIV & TB Treatment Research – Wits Health Consortium: University of the Witwatersrand
Dr Conradie graduated as a medical doctor during the 1980s, a politically tumultuous period in South Africa with the unravelling of apartheid, coupled to this dynamic was the global rise in HIV/AIDS infections. Dr Conradie recalls attending to young women infected with HIV who said they just wanted to live long enough to see their children go to school, sadly most did not live to see that day. Women are often supressed, tend not have a voice and may be involved in relationships where they cannot negotiate safe sexual practices. Dr Conradie realised that under these circumstances to be an effective doctor she needed to learn how to treat HIV. As her career progressed more treatments became available and continued to be refined.
After seeing the successes in HIV treatment Dr Conradie turned her attention to transform treatment of drug resistant tuberculosis. The traditional treatment involved intramuscular injections over a period of 18 months which caused a third of patients to lose their hearing. Dr Conradie and her team have dramatically reduced the treatment window to six months with oral medication and few negative side effects.
In terms of striving for gender equality, Dr Conradie emphasises that education helps to level the playing field. The key to it all is having an enquiring mind and getting as best education as possible and embracing opportunities with both hands. Education is a ticket; and without that ticket the bus ride is never going to happen. She reminds women that we all have something to contribute to any human endeavour. Tune in for more….