Interview with SHM's new board chair, Dr Marc van der Valk

Marc van der Valk.jpgDr Marc van der Valk is head of the HIV clinic at the AMC-UvA and chair of the Dutch Association of HIV Treating Physicians (NVHB). He was also recently appointed as chair of Stichting HIV Monitoring’s governing board. In this interview, we spoke to him about this new role and his vision for SHM in the coming years.

Congratulations on your recent appointment as chair of SHM’s governing board. Why did you decide to take on this role, alongside all your other commitments?
It felt like a logical step because SHM plays an important role in HIV care in the Netherlands. Moreover, I think that a clinical perspective within SHM's governing board can make an important contribution to the quality of the data that SHM generates and to SHM's priorities in the future. 

Could you explain what the role of SHM’s governing board is?
The board sets the course for SHM and is broadly involved in the organisation. For example, one of the things that the board recently played an important role in under my predecessor, Dr Frank Kroon, was the purchase of the new data entry system. We are also involved at a higher level, for example in personnel-related issues such as pensions. In addition, the board also gives direction to the scope of SHM work. A recent example of this is the pilot for monitoring hepatitis mono-infection that will soon be launched.

How does the fact that you are also chair of the NVHB influence your role as chair of SHM’s board?
I think it is very important to have an HIV-treating physician as the chair of SHM’s board (my predecessor, Frank Kroon, was also a past chair of the NVHB). An HIV-treating physician has the best insight into current issues in the clinical setting and knows what’s important for not only the physician, but also the patient. As well as being able to draw on my personal experience as HIV-treating physician, I also have a wider view of the field of HIV care as chair of the NVHB. This is very important for the ongoing collaboration between SHM and HIV professionals. 

Now that HIV has more or less become a chronic disease in the Netherlands, how do you think SHM’s approach to monitoring the HIV epidemic in the Netherlands is going to change in the coming years?
SHM has already taken the necessary steps in that direction. The focus is shifting to monitoring chronic care, which is becoming increasingly broad. As a result, the data needed to monitor the HIV epidemic are becoming more extensive. For example, one of the things that I, as an HIV-treating physician, would like to monitor is whether people who are newly diagnosed with HIV have used PrEP in the past. It is important that these kinds of things are systematically recorded.

What else do you hope to achieve during your term as chair? 
The collaboration between SHM and the HIV-treating physicians is well established, but I hope that this will grow even stronger and that all parties involved in HIV care will use SHM’s data to investigate even more research questions. Finally, it is essential that we continue to take part in international collaborations.