Update from Marsabit: The Value of a Follow-Up Call
Our UNC intern, Grace, has recovered from her cold (if you remember she received medical treatment at the same clinic where she's interning) and has another update for us from the Tumaini Medical Center:
About two weeks ago I introduced you to Ida, and highlighted a counseling session she was having with a patient at Tumaini who had been lost-to-follow-up for two years. As a continuation to this story, and the extent the impact of a “follow-up call” can have, I want to share our recent visit to the patient’s home as she wanted to also have her children tested.
For the purpose of this story, I will call the patient Lucy. Lucy is separated from her husband, and lives in Marsabit with her four children. Though she’s been aware of her HIV status for a few years now, she had not shared this with any family member, nor had her husband or children been tested.
Her absence in treatment at Tumaini for the past two years had been because she simply feared returning to the clinic after missing an appointment. So for a while, she received treatment at the district hospital but mentioned having discontinued treatment there also.
When asked about this, Lucy commented that “while you are receiving treatment you are in the same room as everyone waiting, so everyone can see you, and know why you are there.” As stigma around HIV remains an issue here in Marsabit, Lucy stopped treatment at the district hospital but noted that she was excited when she received the call from Ida.
So through counseling upon her return to Tumaini, Lucy invited us to her home to test her children. She also voiced interest in receiving support when she shares her status with her sister.
I am sharing pictures of our visit and the incredible children we met. As we walked in, they greeted us (complete strangers) with hugs and smiles, and grabbed us empty water jugs to sit on as we waited.
It was a great opportunity to have been part of this experience. Today Lucy knows the status of her children, and looks forward to sharing her own status with her sister with the support of the Tumaini team.