CAPRISA Research Pharmacist Awarded Masters Degree Cum Laude
Research Pharmacist Ms Alicia Desmond of Durban graduated with a Master’s of Pharmacy cum laude for her study which evaluated adherence measures in infants receiving daily Nevirapine suspension for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV.
Passionate about ensuring that patients are adherent to prescribed medication, the Research Pharmacist at the Centre for the Aids Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA) and the Women’s Health and HIV Research Unit, said she was ecstatic.
‘I have always been intrigued by the way drugs work in the human body,’ said Desmond.
‘Studies on paediatric adherence are limited, particularly the prophylactic use of antiretroviral drugs and treatment adherence in young infants.’
This prompted her study (a sub-study of HPTN046) which aimed to ascertain the reliability of maternal verbal reports in measuring adherence to antiretroviral prophylaxis in infants in the first six weeks of life and evaluating the unused returned medication as an alternative method of measuring adherence.
The maternal verbal reports in the study were considered a more reliable measure of adherence to infant antiretroviral prophylaxis in the first six weeks of life when compared to assessment of medication returned unused.
Desmond said it was important that patients received antiretrovirals for prevention and treatment of HIV, but it was equally important that these patients were adherent to medication prescribed.
Desmond said UKZN had been an obvious choice for her because it was local and had a great reputation for research, teaching and learning.
‘My mum has been my greatest support throughout the years. As a single parent, she has made many sacrifices to ensure that my siblings and I attend university.’
Desmond said she wanted to continue working in the research environment and by getting her masters proved ‘it’s never too late to achieve one’s goals, whether personal or professional’.