Strict adherence to antiretroviral therapy (ART) is key to sustained HIV suppression, reduced risk of drug resistance, improved overall health, quality of life, and survival as well as decreased risk of HIV transmission. We continue our Journey at Chatsworth Hospice and meet a patient who is a living example of the importance of adhering to ART.
This is her story:
In 1998,Agnes Musadi went for an HIV test at a local clinic in Chatsworth. To her surprise the results showed she was HIV positive and although she was in denial at the time, she couldn’t accept this in her heart. Without any symptoms of illness and weakness, she decided to carry on with life without treatment until her 5 year old baby became very ill in 2005.
It was at this time that Agnes reached out to Chatsworth Hospice to get help from the nurse who referred her to the local hospital for further tests. Her baby too was HIV positive. Would things have been different if she had to start treatment early when she found out for the first time she was HIV positive in 1998? Was she able to prevent her baby from becoming HIV too? These were some of the questions that was running through her mind. Sadly Agnes lost her baby the following year and emotionally was not doing very well. To add to this traumatic encounter, her mother passed away a few months later. How is it possible to lose 2 people you love so much in the same year?
Agnes started treatment for the first time in 2006 shortly after she lost her baby and had a CD4 count of only 65 compared to the average CD4 count of 1000+. She remembers taking her first ARV treatment with the fear that it would have some side effects and complications but to her surprise her body reacted well to the treatment. As time passed, thinking of her baby and mother, Agnes became depressed and felt alone and stopped her treatment with a result that she became weak and ill for the first time and seemed like she was going downhill from there.
With the help and intervention of Chatsworth Hospice, they gave her the support and encouragement she much needed and with regular checkups and home visits got her back on treatment. Agnes appreciates the wonderful work Chatsworth Hospice does especially going the extra mile for her. She has been a patient for 10 years now and is looking much healthier and stronger thanks to their support.
She also now knows the importance of getting tested and getting treated early and the importance of adhering to treatment which she believes is the only thing that is making her stronger each day!
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