Naidoo is among South Africa’s highly accomplished medical scientists playing a leading role in the research of tuberculosis, the leading cause of death in people living with HIV (PLWH), and has made significant contributions to the global understanding on TB-HIV treatment integration.
The Royal Society of South Africa, made the announcement, following rigorous consideration by the society's adjudication committee, and approval by the council and current RSSAf Fellows.
Naidoo who is the deputy director and leads the HIV-TB treatment programme at the Centre for the Aids Programme of South Africa (Caprisa) said she was honoured and deeply humbled by the recognition.
“My passion is to save lives through medical research; and change the lives of vulnerable, marginalised populations that are most affected by tuberculosis, multidrug-resistant tuberculosis, and HIV.”
Born in Durban, Naidoo obtained her MBChB and PhD at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, where she is an honorary associate professor in the College of Health Sciences. She was among the first to implement public antiretroviral therapy services for people living with HIV over 25 years ago.
Together with her colleagues, her research showed that starting antiretroviral treatment at the same time as tuberculosis treatment resulted in 56% lower death rates, saving lives of patients with HIV-TB co-infection.
This work led to the WHO advice that co-treatment would now be the standard-of-care for people living with both HIV and TB.
“Her research has shaped the development of international clinical guidelines and algorithms used in the management of TB-HIV co-infection,” said Salim Abdool Karim, director of Caprisa.
“She leads several Caprisa studies across multiple research sites aimed at optimising innovative treatment strategies to further reduce deaths in patients co-infected with TB-HIV and in HIV patients with drug-resistant TB.”