When Sharon turned ten, she reached a time when she wanted to
know things. She had many questions. She has been taking
medicines since she was very small, and she doesn't know why. It
used to be that she just took her medicines, but now Sharon has all
of these questions filling her head about the medicines: "My
brother doesn't take these…, not my younger sister. What is wrong
It makes her worried. She wants to ask her friends at
school, but she keeps quiet. She wonders if her medicines
have something to do with why her father left her and her mother a
few years ago, but Sharon cannot ask her mother about that because
she does not want to make her stressed.
She has started to ask some other questions though. Last month,
she asked her mother, "Today I am taking these medicines.
When will the day come when I will stop?" Her mother said it was
not for her to decide. "When the doctor at the clinic says
you have reached that day, then that is the time. It is for
the doctor to say."
But Sharon has more questions. She wonders why she has to
take the medicines, why she has to go to the clinic, whether the
medicines mean that something is wrong with her. Sharon needs
someone to help answer these questions.
I could not be more happy to introduce my team to Sharon (so to
speak). I officially have my great big team (see below!!) assembled
for my project on pediatric HIV disclosure, and they are ready to
go out into our 8 largest pediatric HIV clinics in Kenya and try to
answer Sharon's questions.
My team will provide counseling for
mothers like Sharon's mother that will guide them through the
process of talking with their children about their HIV infections.
They will coordinate support groups for adolescents like Sharon
once they have been told about their HIV status. And they will
follow Sharon for two years and monitor closely how she is doing
with her medicines and health -- physically, mentally, emotionally,
and socially. We're introducing the team to each of the clinics
this week, and it is such a privilege to be able to add these
people-resources to our program.
So, today's deep gratitude is for my expanded team and for what
they will do to help Sharon and the thousands of children like
Sharon that we try to take care of in Kenya.