Have you signed up for Twitter? Yes? Then the doctor is in.

While most consider social media a frivolous pastime, only good for killing time or populating reading lists, for Doctor Sindi Van Zyl it is a tool to extend her work as an HIV clinician and patients’ right activist.

With over 10,000 followers, Dr Sindi is a fixture in the SA Twitterscape. Her passion for HIV healthcare is centered on preventing mother-to-child transmission and breaking the stigma around the disease.

“I love using technology; I get to reach people from different walks of life – from Dainfern to Soweto.”

Van Zyl recently stopped practicing medicine to focus on her activism and HIV awareness. Before that she worked at various clinics in Soweto and later joined the non-profit organisation Anova and travelled the country teaching communities how to prevent and treat HIV.

She is currently a columnist on Health24 and has an HIV advice column in Bona magazine, but its her online presence that’s brought her national recognition.

“Our health system is frustrating,” says Van Zyl.

“If a patient has been seen by a doctor, they shouldn't be emailing me. But medical practitioners are mistreating patients and then they reach out to me out of desperation.”

What started off as innocent pastime has made Doctor Sindi a household name to many. Despite the challenges, she is happy to be making a difference.

Follow Doctor Sindi on Twitter.