Wednesday, August 13, 2008

'Positive' Grand mother

When we think of HIV positive people, we imagine some one in their 20s or 30s, but there are a few 'positive' women (and men) who are in their 50s and having grand children. HIV testing may be delayed because of the age as the treating doctor may not consider this possibility.

She came with her husband 7 years ago. He was very sick having all the features of defective immunity. His test proved he is 'positive'. She was also found to be positive but with a near normal immunity. She had 3 children all in their 20s. They were all tested and found negative.
At that time, there was no free Government supply of medicines [ART] for HIV/AIDS. I prescribed medicines to prevent opportunistic infections. ART was too costly and he could not afford to take it continuously. He died within 2 years.

Last month she came to me again. She is 52 now and is living with her son. She is the proud grandmother of 3 kids. She came with recurrent fever and weight loss. She had fungal infection in her mouth, and I could make out that her immunity is low. Lab tests confirmed it, and I referred her to Govt ART Centre where she will get free anti HIV medicines. If everything goes well, she will be able to live a near normal life for a long time.

She is grateful for this opportunity to live well because of free ART, but laments the fact that her husband did not get such a chance.

When I started practising Medicine, I had helplessly seen scores of patients with advanced HIV/AIDS dying in my hospital. ART was unavailable or unaffordable. Now the availability of free ART has dramatically changed the situation.
A scientific discovery in health, whether it is a new technology or a drug , should be made available to whole mankind as soon as possible, otherwise such discovery only adds to the pain of the poor.

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