"I have heard this story too many times," I think, as I listen
to the grandmother in front of me.
Rotich is 3 years old. His father died just months after he was
born. His mother spent most of his first two years of life in and
out of the hospital. No one knew exactly what was wrong with her,
but when she died a year ago, they told her mother that it was
Rotich went to live with his grandmother after his mother had
died. His grandmother barely scrapes together enough for the two of
them to eat one meal a day, but she loves this little boy and so
she keeps trying. She asks her neighbors for help, and she does her
best to provide for him.
A few months ago, Rotich got sick with a bad, bad cough. He kept
coughing and coughing. Not only was he struggling to breathe, but
he was too weak to eat even that one meal a day. Finally, his
grandmother got him to the hospital. At the hospital, they learned
that Rotich has this HIV virus in his blood too.
Those were the bad times. Rotich's grandmother thought she would
lose this little boy as well.
"He was all that remained of my daughter," she said. "And I did
not want to lose him. But I knew he would die. Those who have HIV,
they just die."
Thankfully, Rotich's grandmother was wrong. She kept trying,
despite her fears. She managed to get him enrolled in an AMPATH
clinic in a town within an hour's trip of where they live. At the
AMPATH clinic, Rotich was started on a combination of medicines
that could fight back against this virus in his blood. With
these medicines, Rotich's story transforms from death to
My study team started evaluating Rotich and his grandmother
every month, going to their house and seeing them in clinic. During
these evaluations, they make sure that he gets all four of his
medicines, twice a day, every day. They helped arrange for him and
his grandmother to get a small monthly supplement of food to help
them get a second meal each day.
And then we all got to bear witness to a miracle. This last
remaining member of his family began to thrive and grow.
I have heard this story many times, for many many children. From
death to life. And even though it is a story heard over and over,
it is not really too many times. You can't grow tired of the repeat