Today is World AIDS Day again. Two years ago I wrote a post about how HIV & AIDS affects the people in the community around us. It is still incredibly relevant.
Last year I wrote about Morgan, our shopping helper. Every week or two when we went to Mansa he was there outside Shoprite waiting to collect our bags and help us get the big job done.
About 8 weeks ago he confided in me and told me that he had finally gone for HIV testing and was found positive. I asked him if he had gotten the medicine he needed and he said yes. I also asked if he was taking it on time and properly. He again said yes.
Then he told me his white blood count. A normal, healthy person should have at least 4500, Morgan told me his count was 326. I hoped and prayed the medicine would begin to do its healing work.
Two weeks later when we reached Mansa we were informed by Morgan's friends that he had been admitted to the hospital. We went to visit him to find out what he needed. The nurses told us he needed iron pills and juice. We went to get it and delivered it the next morning, but he had already been discharged and we had no idea where his house was.
Two weeks after that we once again saw Morgan at Shoprite. He was moving much slower than usual, but promised me he was taking his medicine. We gave him some extra money so he could buy some healthy food. I also gave him some tips for home remedies that would help keep him healthy. I looked forward to seeing him at the next shopping trip to check on him.
The next scheduled Mansa trip found me in Lusaka so Tom made the trip alone. When he got to Shoprite he found out that Morgan had passed away the day before. That was a sad day. Another young man whose life was snuffed out way too early.
Morgan is not the first employee we've lost to HIV/AIDS and sad as it is to say, he most likely won't be the last.
We've lost too many babies to this pestilence. Each and every time it is so very painful. It is especially hard when the babies and children had no choice in the matter. The disease was passed to them. I wish it weren't so.
All of this would be too difficult to bear if it weren't for the victories we do win from time to time. One of our little boys who came to live with us in 2008 has HIV. When he came to us he was tiny, his body was frail and riddled with tuberculosis. Not only were his lungs affected, but he had a huge abcess on his neck. It took weeks of painful treatments on two different ocassions until it finally healed completely. Now, aside from being small for his size, you would never know this little boy has HIV. After a few years on the ARVs he is pretty much never sick. We don't know how long he'll survive, but we do know that his life is way better than it would have been otherwise.
We don't know if Maggie's parents died of HIV/AIDS, but she is another life saved. I'll tell you more about her progress tomorrow.
The fight against HIV & AIDS is not an easy one. Please read my post below to learn more. Together we can and will make a difference.
Exactly Two Years Ago: World AIDS Day
Exactly Three Years Ago: No One Told Me