Gratitude #2: Stories for World AIDS Day

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"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 Rotich's grandmother that it was HIV. No more father, no more mother.

Rotich went to live with his grandmother after his mother died. She 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 all I knew was that those who have HIV -- they just die."

Thankfully, Rotich's grandmother was wrong. She kept trying to fight the virus, despite her fears. She managed to get him enrolled in one of our AMPATH clinics 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 life.

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. It's the best kind of repeat. You can't grow tired of the repeat miracle.

35 million people are living with HIV today, but only 14 million of them are able to access the treatment that transforms their story from death to life. For children, the gap is even worse -- only a quarter of them are able to get the medicines they need for this miracle. For World AIDS Day, let's raise our voices together to close that gap. 

With our friends in The Pocket Square Project, we want to support Rotich and children like him on their journey all the way to adulthood. Join us in Indianapolis:

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Posted at 14:48

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