Wednesday, 10 July 2019
Since the early 1990s, SIM has actively responded to issues of HIV and AIDS through collaborative health and development programs. Hope For Life Benin is one of the projects that SIM supports. The project provides treatment for people living with HIV, prevention, education and holistic care.
Moudji* was infected with HIV through mother-to-child transmission. In July of 2014, she was hospitalised with fever and diarrhoea. Due to her symptoms, a doctor sent her to the HFL Benin clinic in Bembéréké to be tested and she was found to be positive.
She was started on daily Bactrim to treat her opportunistic infections and daily multivitamins. The clinic is able to give medication to patients free of charge because of the financial support they receive. Patients would not be able to afford them otherwise.
In October 2014, Moudji began antiretroviral (ARV) therapy to supress the HIV virus and stop the progression of HIV disease. She also needed to be treated for parasites as she was drinking water from the swamps. The clinic staff told her caregivers that she must only have water that comes from a well with a pump to prevent further problems.
From the beginning, the staff noticed that she was not routinely given her ARVs by her caregivers and were concerned about Moudji’s welfare. Many would be left over and she had multiple opportunistic infections (such as fungal infections, rashes and stomach issues). Moudji, who spoke very little, would arrive at her appointments by herself and very dirty.
The clinic staff made several home visits to encourage her grandmother to help Moudji take her pills.
Moudji only attended school sometimes but her teacher told her not to come back because of the many days she missed due to illness and working in the fields. The clinic supervisor convinced the teacher to allow Moudji back in class so she could continue to learn and socialise with the other children.
The clinic continues to do home visits and sends Moudji home with oil, rice, soap, milk and sardines. Once a year she receives a new mosquito net, school supplies and fabric for her school uniform. Sometimes the cllinic is able to give her beans and corn too. She has been given a weekly pill container and comes into the clinic every week to help with her adherence.
She enjoys coming to the children’s support group and fun days, although she chooses to sit apart from the other children and watch. The clinic staff have noticed a decrease in her infections since she started coming to weekly appointments.
She has also gained weight and is often clean when she comes in. Moudji is talking a little more, is making more eye contact and will now sometimes even smile! The staff were thrilled when she attended a week long Holiday Kids Program last year.
*Name changed to protect identity
Help more people living with HIV in Africa and Asia access holistic medical care! Your tax-deductible gift to Hope for Life can help change lives. You can give online here
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