Duncan Listened

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Duncan Baumgarten is 11 years old and wants to be a pediatrician.

For a big school project, he has been considering the issue that I work on all the time - what is it like to be a child in Kenya taking medicines for HIV? Duncan read through the stories I have collected from HIV-infected adolescents in Kenya who talk about what it means to be on all these medicines that you have to take twice a day, every day. He listened carefully to these stories on paper, shared by kids around his age across the ocean.

These older kids in Kenya describe a lot of problems with taking their medicines. They grow tired of the medicines. They wrestle keeping the medicines secret and trying to seem normal when they are around their friends. The medicines spill and get lost and have to be remembered every, single day. Their families are often in chaos; they are the unwanted, orphaned nephew or the burdensome granddaughter who requires money for food and school and traveling to clinic. They face so many challenges in taking these medicines every, single day. Even though we know that these HIV medicines are vital to keeping them alive into adulthood…

As part of his project, Duncan painted this amazing picture capturing some of what the Kenyan adolescents were sharing in their stories - their challenges with all these medicines to be taken every single day and how often they miss doses of their medicines.

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I thought it captured perfectly the daily struggle of taking HIV medicines - so many medicines, so many days, and so many things that can go wrong in taking all of those doses.  I also think Duncan is on his way to being an excellent pediatrician. Listening to your patients and their families is job number one.

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Posted at 07:44

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