When we saw her in July, she had a CD4 count of 6 meaning her immune system was non-functioning. She had been in and out of hospitals as her condition worsened due to severe gastritis, tuberculosis, and AIDS.
Linda (a pseudonym) was suffering in other ways, too. Twenty-nine years old and the mother of three young children, Linda had been abandoned by her husband and rejected by her family. They did not want her in their house because of her HIV status.
Last spring, she came to Siempre Unidos weighing no more than 70 pounds. She was fed breakfast by the staff and taken to Hospice San Jose run by a British nurse. From that time on, the Siempre Unidos clinic doctor and nurse monitored her condition. Our home visitors checked on Linda to provide support and companionship. Pascual Torres, our Honduran Executive Director, brought her children to San Pedro Sula and let them stay with him and his wife so they could be near their mother.
Dr. Jay Lalezari, a board members and an HIV researcher, delivered the last crucial piece of life-saving care Linda needed – a new antiretroviral regimen she could tolerate. He could only do this because of the generosity and hard work of Dr. Howard Edelstein, President of RAMP, a nonprofit organization that recycles unused bottles of unexpired advanced AIDS medicines not available in Honduras, but discarded by US patients.
As you can see from the second picture, Linda is feeling a lot better. She still needs to gain more weight, but her tuberculosis and gastritis have abated.
Linda is alive due to the tireless and loving work of the whole Siempre Unidos team: the Honduran director, doctor, nurse, psychologist, home visitors, U.S. board members, and Honduran and US based partner volunteer organizations.
Linda is alive.