We helped set up discreet areas in a small Anglican church and saw 33 patients over the course of several hours. Most were returning for follow-up care and refills of their free (PEPFAR) antiretroviral drugs. In one corner, an ongoing "Human Rights" counseling session reminded participants, "You have a right to an education, you have a right to work, you have a right to marry; you do not have a right to infect someone with HIV."
In another corner, the patients were privately registered, tested (CD4 counts, not the more expensive viral load tests) and referred to a third corner, where a clinician evaluated their current status. They were then referred to the fourth corner, where the makeshift pharmacy distributed appropriate meds: antibiotics, four antiretrovirals, anti-TB drugs, etc. - plus some supplemental food.
ARV's are begun here when a CD4 count is 350 or below; multivitamins are begun at 500. Septrim is prescribed prophylactically for anyone who has HIV. Two thirds of our patients today were female, many of them children. A 29-year-old widow was encouraged to bring her three children in for testing; their HIV status is unknown, and they could benefit from free medical care if they should (unfortunately) "qualify."
One eight-year-old came in with her grandmother, who was clearly overwhelmed by caring for several kids whose parents had died. Oprah had not taken her antiretrovirals as prescribed, and her CD4 count had dropped from 629 to 328 in one month. They both needed encouragement as much as appropriate medication and supplemental food.
It's time to go help Jessica and Ruth. At Dr. Hardison's suggestion, I am now using weights to strengthen their quadriceps. "Three stones" (in two plastic bags, one per leg) is no longer an archaic measurement to me!
Advent blessings, and thank you all for keeping us all in your prayers.