A day in the life of Oben Tabe Jonas

Medical Laboratory Technician, HIV/AIDS Research initiator, and IAS Member from Limbe, Cameroon

My interest in HIV/AIDS started in 2004, when I discovered that both my mother and younger sister were HIV positive. Back then I was working at the District Hospital Bota Lime as a contract worker under the Heavy Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) initiative.

I was the one who carried out the tests, and the sad news pushed me to deepen my knowledge of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Thanks to the scientific advancements and my counseling and guidance, my mother and sister are today using antiretroviral therapy (ART) and are in general good health.

After my training on HIV/AIDS testing and counseling my commitment grew steadily, and I tried to make sure that every single person who came for an HIV test received proper counseling after the response.

In 2005 I started working as a Counselor for the Peer Education Program (PEP) –Cameroon, an NGO working on the HIV/AIDS field directed by Mr Wajiri Melvin.

In 2007 I wrote a rap song that reached out and helped many young people in our community and I received an award from PEP (Peer Education Program) Cameroon. In the same year I participated in the World AIDS week initiatives as a staff representative for the Limbe health area. Since then, I've been working in counseling, diagnosis, data keeping and reporting for HIV/AIDS.

As a member of the Cameroon Association for Medical Laboratory Science (CAMELS), in July 2007 I was elected Treasurer for the South West Region and I have been working in this capacity until today.

I have attended all our national conferences and I have been a member of the Organizing committee of the 2008 and 2010 National conferences in Buea hosted by the South West Region.

Thanks to my experience in the field I have been awarded by the Canadian Society of Medical Laboratory Sciences (CSMLS) with an ongoing online scholarship on the serological challenges in pre-transfusion compatibility testing. Also, I received a partial scholarship to attend the 6th IAS Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention (IAS 2011) in Rome on July 2011. I am glad for these opportunities and I have now started a research group known as the ''Clarity Research Group of Cameroon" (Limbe). "Behavioral Activities and the Transmission of HIV/AIDS in Coastal Settings in Cameroon-The Case of Idenau" is the name of the research topic.

HIV/AIDS is still a major problem in Cameron: we have a national prevalence of 5.5% (2004), and the percentage keeps increasing. Women count for about 55% of cases and people from 15 to 29 years are the most affected. In the 15 to 24 age group, girls infected are 15% compared to 4-6% of same age boys. I am very passionate about my job and I am working hard in my country to fight HIV/AIDS, because in my life I have learnt that anything you do with passion will definitely result in something good.