By Austine Ouma
So sad……… I had just finished with the first patient of the day: A man and his wife who had just started on ARVs. I gave them a 2 week course and asked them to come after the two weeks. The next patient was a beautiful bubbly 8 year old girl brought in by her uncle. She was all smiles and extended her hand to greet me…Her name was Mbula (not her real name) . I went on to fill her prescription as I was chatting with her on how she takes her medication. I was actually impressed because she not only knew the number of pills to take but also the exact time to take the medication.
Apart from the normal ARVs and CTX she was to be put on Isoniazid preventive therapy.. I remember packing her a bag full of drugs to last her 3 months. All this while she looked at me.. Quite keenly then out of nowhere she asked ‘daktari sasa nikimaliza hizi dawa zote si nitakuwa nimepona na sitarudi kuzikunywa tena?’(Doctor, when I fiish taking this dose of drugs, will I be well by then?).
I froze for a second… Multiple questions crisscrossed my mind.. ‘she does not know her disease?’ How do I tell this sweet baby that she will take these drugs for as long as she lives? How do I look into those hope filled beautiful eyes and tell her the truth? Will she even understand? My eyes filled up with tears and before they could drop, I mumbled to my colleague “Phyllis kuja umalizie hapa siskii vizuri ” (Phyllis come and finish this job, am not feeling well)… I ran out and cried my heart out in the washroom.. When I regained my composure and went back, Mbula had already left. Her innocent face has since not left my mind..
Today, I want to talk to you… Yes, you who may be HIV positive or negative. You who refuses to go to the VCT to know your status. The pregnant lady who refuses to go for antenatal and ends up getting a baby who is HIV positive. I want to talk to the spouses, girlfriends or lovers who refuse to get tested.. Who spread the virus knowingly or unknowingly. Do you sometimes sit and think of the consequences of your actions? Do you know how hard it is to explain to a child that they inherited HIV from their parents? Do you know that you can get a HIV negative child if you faithfully go for your antenatal care and the necessary precautions are taken during birth?
Children are our future… Let’s take care of them.. It is possible to reduce the number of children born with HIV. It begins with you and me. Do you know your status? Make a vow today, that no child will bear the consequences of your actions! Get tested.