Two women walk to the FACES reception. One looking in her late 50s produces a referral from an HIV counseling and testing site. She looks a little tired and is leaning on the other woman for support. The other woman being leaned on surprises us by saying, “This is my daughter …’’
The daughter, Maureen* is enrolled at the HIV program FACES.
At only 44 kilograms her body’s immune system is so battered by the HIV virus that the CD4 count (which shows how much ability one has to fight infection) which is normally more than 500 had been reduced to 5. On August 31st 2005, she was started on ARVS. The weight was merely 44. The following month she was started on TB drugs. In spite of the TB medicines she started to deteriorate. Each visit she got worse. A follow up visit to the home, revealed that she defaulted TB meds. Immediately she was restarted on TB drugs.
As Maureen and I chat the next May, I can see why the admirable lady at 30 years, has all to celebrate. Her smile is quite charming and I think to myself that she should take a shot at the Miss Kenya beauty pageant.
“The ARVs (antiretroviral medications) have really helped me and anyone else,’’ she said suppressing her joyous laughter. “Did you have any major side effects,’’ I asked her looking at diminishing spots on her arm. “Yes, I had rashes which were itchy. They changed drugs for me.’’ She said looking at the spots as if noticing them for the first time. Her drugs were changed because of TB drugs.
Maureen is now 55 kilogram’s with a CD4 of 229. I tried to change the topic abit. ” Your brother Samuel Aloyo* did not make it. Did this one discourage you?’’ The smile faded then she quipped, ” Sammy never took his drugs. He was ever alone. Because of oral thrush he was not eating either.’’ I admired her confidence. “What has been your strength?’’ The smile returned. After a while, she said. “I disclosed to the family members and they have been great help to me. They remind me morning and evening. I get a balanced diet and I never miss my drugs. They are my life. I miss them, I miss out. In November I missed appointment. The sputum produced blood-tinged and my weight fell to 43. I also had breathing problems. I learnt my mistake of missing drugs.’’
I had met the dad Mr. Aloyo* a former head teacher in October. He has been great help to Maureen. “I give them my best. They are my children.’’ I still remember his words as I left Okana Village.
Maureen can now help the family in vast cotton farm and also sells dry maize at Number Okana market.
* Maureen Aloyo not her real name.
* Samuel Aloyo not his real name.
* Mr. Aloyo not his real name.