HIV/Aids doctor

Sindi van Zyl

Sindi van Zyl knew from the days when she’d walk with her granny to the clinic in Harare that she wanted to be a doctor. And following her medical studies at the University of Pretoria, she was set for a career in paediatrics or surgery. But her internship at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital changed that. “The death, despair and suffering broke me,” she recalls.

So much of it was caused unnecessarily by HIV/Aids that Van Zyl made it her life’s mission to fight the pandemic. Today she works with non-profit organisation Anova, travelling the country teaching and communicating broadly on how the disease can be prevented and treated.

Van Zyl’s major innovation thus far has been the use of smart technology. Through her blog she answers anonymous Aids-related questions that people feel too embarrassed to ask their doctors, and she is in constant contact with nurses even in rural clinics using Twitter and WhatsApp, advising on optimal treatment.

— Ian Macleod