CLCH celebrates award winning HIV nurse on World Aids Day

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Published: 1st December 2015
mary_hiv 1st dev 2015.jpgFour in ten people diagnosed with HIV are living in London. To help manage the condition they need access to specialist support and treatment. One person delivering that care is Mary Makarau, a specialist HIV Nurse based in Kensington and Chelsea.
Mary won the patient award at our 2015 Staff Awards ceremony. One of her patients, explains why there could be no better winner.
"When I was first diagnosed I cut myself off completely and withdrew into my house, but Mary still came to visit. To begin with we didn't do anything; we just went out, into the fresh air. Depression is common in those living with HIV; you need someone to motivate you. Mary worked hard to gain my trust and give me the confidence to see other medical professionals.
"As my life began to improve I became involved in the local support group Mary runs, and it was there I could see just how much Mary means to all her patients - nominating her for the award was an obvious choice."
Upon hearing she had won the award, Mary explains:"I was blown over and overcome by emotion. I love my job, I really do and I'm so grateful to have the support of my fantastic manager Una McCann. When I see my patients getting better and progressing, even to become mentors, it makes me so happy, and I'm so proud to be recognised for my role."
Mary started her career as an HIV nurse over 20 years ago, soon after her brother was diagnosed with the virus, she says:
"When my brother was diagnosed I needed to learn more about the illness to be able to care for him. I needed to make a change to support both my brother and others who were stigmatised because they had the virus, so I decided to volunteer with HIV patients - that's how I got into the work."
Mary sees most of her patients in their homes and is a strong advocate of community healthcare.
"Visiting people at home is so important. It helps me to build trust and stop people becoming lonely. Isolation is a big issue. I know that before I started to see some of my patients, they would find every excuse to be admitted into the HIV ward in hospital, just to be with other people. Seeing me ensures they don't have to endure those long spells of isolation."
Mary's job involves raising awareness of HIV, educating patients, and with their permission, referring them to specialists. She also provides counselling, assists with benefit applications, reviews medicine and takes part in social activities with patients.

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