Thursday, October 22, 2009

When Drugs Fail

In our Mashiah Foundation sewing program, 8 of our 12 staff members are HIV+. We have been very intentional about hiring HIV+ women. In general, their health has been quite stable, with just an occasional sickness now and then. All 8 are on anti-retroviral drugs which work to suppress the virus. Once a month, they each go to a major hospital in Jos to queue with hundreds of other HIV+ people for their next dose of drugs, compliments of the U.S. government PEPFAR program. (Our Mashiah Foundation clinic does not yet have anti-retroviral drugs, but we do provide free drugs for opportunistic infections.)

Larai had her appointment this week. When she came to work the next day, she was quite down as she shared that she was told that the drugs are no longer working in her body.

The nurse had two main questions for her: Are you using condoms? Are you taking your drugs correctly? Apparently they were concerned about a possible cross infection from a partner. Larai asserted that she has not met with any man since her husband died (around 2002). And she faithfully takes her drugs at 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. every day.

Larai began taking the anti-retroviral drugs in 2004. In 2008, the hospital changed her drugs, but she doesn't know the reason why. And now she has received this news. There was really no alternative given. Perhaps she is already on the final line of drugs currently available here.
Larai was told to start taking a multi-vitamin. She has also resolved that she wants to try to eat better food.
Here she is (red/blue in the middle) singing her heart out.

The interesting thing is that Larai's body has given her no indication that the drugs are failing. She still feels fine as usual. I'm concerned that this news may give Larai a bit too much to think about, and she may even get sick just because she's expecting to get sick.

Larai is the mother of four children, ranging from about 8 to 15. Her passion in life is to raise her children. My passion is to equip her to do that.

We'll be giving Larai more sewing projects so she can earn more money to buy better food. And we'll work on keeping her 'hope quotient' up as well.

1 comment:

Mike Blyth said...

There may not be any antiretroviral treatment possible at this point given the resources, but it would be worth talking to a couple of the consultants at Evangel (such as Dr. Sampson) to see whether there are any sources of second-line treatment. Also, just having a consultant-level doctor look at the information might give more information and some alternatives.