Ending the HIV stigma with patient-centered care

December 6, 2023  -CAY HILL: December 1st was World AIDS Day and St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) recently welcomed a new permanent Internal Medicine Specialist, Dr. Sonja van Roeden to its Internal Medicine team. Dr. van Roeden trained in the Netherlands at the Diakonessenhuis Hospital and the University Medical Center in Utrecht. During her residency, she worked in Greece in a refugee camp and chose medicine because she enjoys the connection with patients and enjoys helping them receive patient-centered care.

Dr. van Roeden’s specialty is internal medicine with a subspecialization in infectious diseases. “As an infectiologist, I specialize in the treatment of patients with hepatitis B/C, tuberculosis, and HIV, but also post-operative infections, tropical diseases, and infections in general. I also did my PhD in the treatment of chronic Q fever, a disease that leads to infections of the heart and large vessels. While the treatment of HIV-positive patients is one of my passions, my day-to-day tasks as an infectiologist encompass so much more”.

Transitioning from a large hospital in the Netherlands with over 12,000 employees and 1000 beds, Dr. van Roeden was excited to explore working in a smaller hospital in St. Maarten. “Who would not want to move to St Maarten? It is paradise in the Caribbean! What a beautiful island to live on. I love traveling, and this is a wonderful opportunity for me to work here and enjoy the Caribbean life. So far, I am very impressed by both the nursing and medical staff and the excellent care SMMC provides to our patients. Everyone is devoted to delivering high-quality patient-centered care”.

When asked about what she wishes to accomplish at SMMC, Dr. van Roeden responded, “I hope that I can provide the best possible care for all of my patients in good cooperation with my colleagues at SMMC and the general practitioners who do excellent work on the island. In addition to my typical internal medicine cases, I am very passionate about HIV care and I hope that I can help HIV-positive patients in the Dutch Caribbean region to receive the necessary care. Unfortunately, there is still a taboo surrounding HIV despite it being a very common, globally widespread, and well-treatable disease. I have found that patients are often scared to get tested and seek medical attention. HIV is treatable and patients on treatment can live a long and healthy life. I hope that we can diminish the taboo and burden of disease and that all patients feel safe and comfortable enough to get tested and treated accordingly”.

Patients who wish to make an appointment at the Internal Medicine Department can do so by calling + (721) 543-1111 ext 1300 from Monday through Friday from 8:30am until 4:30pm. Insured patients are required to have a referral letter from their House Doctor

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