Prof Andrew Carr

There is an enormous satisfaction watching someone’s health improve

We sat down with Professor Andrew Carr, Director of HIV, Immunology, and Infectious Diseases at St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney.  He shares a bit about his work and the patients he treats.

1. Why did you want to become an immunologist?

For me, I saw it as a great way to care for the sick and to use my brain at the same time. My career path as an HIV physician was an accidental consequence of that; in the right place at a time when there was a huge burden of disease and an enormous need to improve knowledge and patient care.

2. How long have you been working at St Vincent’s? Have you changed positions while you have been here?

I started as an immunology registrar in 1989. I thought I would be here for only three years but the patients and career opportunities meant I always wanted to stay.

3. What do you love most about your job?

The patients. There is an enormous satisfaction watching someone’s health improve.

4. Have there been any patients that have resonated with you over the years?

My first patient with AIDS. It was 1985 and working in a country hospital. She (not he) had contracted HIV from a blood transfusion 5 years earlier when she had developed acute leukaemia at the age of 70. She was very scared and clearly dying soon. But all the hospital staff ignored her (her room was not cleaned, meals were left at the door, she was barely bathed) and her family were nowhere to be seen. It struck me that no one should die so alone and afraid.

5. Medicine is constantly evolving and changing for the better. How do you see this changing the lives of your patients?

HIV care has become a chronic disease that can be controlled in almost all patients. Our job is to make that control safe and lifelong.

6. Where do you see yourself in the future?

I’m not going anywhere just yet. My role will be to mentor some of the next generation of HIV clinicians and researchers, and to translate the huge gains we have made in HIV care to the other chronic immune and infectious diseases we treat.

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