Shining

For International Women's Day...

If you want to stand for women and girls around the world, you have to think about HIV. You have to consider the ways that HIV tries to knock women down. HIV is the leading cause of death and disease in women ages 15 to 44 in low & middle-income countries. Many, many young women die from the complications of pregnancy and giving birth around the world, but HIV snatches the most lives. This damn virus.

On International Women's Day, let me draw your attention to Lucy. I invite you to stand for Lucy.

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Two weeks ago, Lucy peeked into my office within the AMPATH pediatric HIV clinic with two pieces of paper in her hand and a special light in her eyes. She had just seen one of our Kenyan clinical officers, and the clinical officer had sent her my way.

It is very rare that a patient is sent to me because of good news. Usually, they get referred to me when there are complications.

There was a time about a year ago when I was seeing Lucy once a week because she was very sick with a complication of her HIV infection. We switched around her medicines, we gave her money for the bus ride to clinic once a week, we hoped… Thankfully, Lucy made it through those months of sickness. She is 14 now -- healthy and happy and stable on her HIV medicines.

Lucy is not defined by her virus. The light in her eyes comes from her other achievements. She had brought with her to clinic a copy of her grades for the previous semester, and she had reason to be proud - a row of perfect As in every subject. A row of perfect As from a school where anything above a B is a major accomplishment. Lucy was shining.

Lucy's other paper made me awfully happy too - a lab slip where the numbers indicated that there was no virus to be found in her bloodstream and that her immune system has the cells it needs to protect her from infections. My smile matched hers.

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There are plenty of lousy things we could think of on this International Women's Day - so many women and girls dying, being infected, being abused, being deprived of opportunity -- but let's think about shining Lucy.

Young stars in the open star cluster NGC 2547

Posted at 11:57

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