Thabo* was born HIV positive at birth and at age 15, was recently admitted to HACT’s Respite Unit. Weak and underweight, the young teen has severely stunted growth and an air of worry about him. Whilst all his friends have recently gone back to school, Thabo now has to remain in the Unit until he has regained his strength.
Thabo can’t remember when he first started taking ART (antiretroviral treatment) but he defaulted in 2006 for the first time because his gogo (granny), who was looking after him at the time, stopped taking him to the clinic.
Thabo was then reinitiated onto ART in 2009 and continued to take his treatment until 2012. Again, he defaulted because he was not aware of his HIV positive status and was confused as to why he had to take medication on a daily basis when his friends didn’t. Thabo only found out he was HIV positive a year ago when he first became severely ill. It was only then, when taken to his local clinic, that the nurses sat him down and explained to him about his HIV positive status.
Thabo is slowly but surely regaining his strength and while he is now very motivated to take his ART thanks to the adherence support and counselling he has received from HACT’s nurses, he is also gravely concerned because his mom is also very ill at the moment.
Sadly, Thabo’s story is one we encounter on a regular basis here at HACT and while no one envies a parent or caregiver who has to decide when and how to explain to their child that they are HIV positive, the consequences of not doing so, or doing so too late, can by life-threatening. As for Thabo, our team are just grateful that we can be here for him and his family and do what we can to ensure he gets well enough to return to school and enjoy his life.
If you would like to assist HACT in caring for young people like Thabo in 2019 and beyond, please consider joining our Hope Club where for a donation of only R50 per month, you can help us give hope to local individuals, families and communities impacted by HIV/AIDS.
* Name has been changed to protect our patient's identity.