Dr. Aldo Marchesini (b. 1941) is an Italian surgeon living and working in Mozambique. He has HIV, which he got through his work in 2002. Currently Dr. Marchesini is based in Quelimane, where he has lived since 1981 and works as a surgeon and a physician in town's hospital. Dr Marchesini arrived in Africa for the first time in 1970.
Surgeons sometimes cut themselves during surgical operations; Dr. Marchesini contracted HIV through such accident. However, Dr. Marchesini hasn't stopped working, nor returned to live in Italy. He continues leading his busy life, taking every day his antiretroviral drugs that nowadays allow patients to live perfectly normal life. He also has never tried to hide his illness. At the time when he got infected, the therapy was free in Italy but not in Mozambique, but he felt bad being a privileged person and didn't feel he could've left his Mozambican patients. Not long afterwards he had found out about his own HIV positivity, he managed to set up in Quelimane a day hospital for AIDS patients with the help of community of Sant'Egidio, which already had a hospital like that in Maputo, Mozambique's capital. Today antiretroviral therapy is free also in Mozambique.
Dr. Marchesini's main project is related to vesico-vaginal fistulas, repairing operations of which he both carries out and teaches around Mozambique as much as he can. In remote areas it's common that women give birth to their babies at home, but if during delivery complications emerge, a Caesarean section or other advanced help can't be provided immediately and the closest hospital may be far away and/or there may not be transport available. Besides being a dangerous situation for both baby and mother in many ways, the baby's head may start putting pressure on the urinary bladder preventing the blood circulation. The bladder's tissue dies, fistula is being formed and bladder won't retain the urine. In addition to being a very uncomfortable problem, it also has effects on women's social lives; they don't want to go out, they husbands may abandon them and they may remain isolated in their community.
Dr. Marchesini is specialized in operations that close the fistulas, allowing thus the women to restart the normal life. Every year he organizes “surgery campaigns"; he goes either together with the Quelimane hospital team, or alone to other hospitals around the country, for a week approximately in each hospital, where besides performing the surgeries himself, he teaches it to local surgeons. The women in the nearby area are informed about these campaigns through radio and local healthcare professionals. The operation is performed in topical anesthesia and usually succeeds in repairing the bladder permanently.
On 12 Jun 2014 Dr. Marchesini received 2014 United Nations Population Award for his work.