LAB WORK & HIV

Posted: August 14, 2009 in Uncategorized
Lab work seems like a
necessary evil around here.  After a woman has been in our program for
4 consecutive weeks she goes to the lab and gets a "pikki" and several
tests are done.  Tara usually carts over several pregnant participants
at once and they all line up and wait their turn.  Little do they know
that the information from that lab work may change their lives
forever. 
We are used to the multiple positive malaria tests. 
It’s a "Mom and Pop" lab and sometimes we wonder about the results.  Of
course, we do live in Haiti and a lot of people get malaria around
here.  We check for the RH factor (not that Rhogam is available or
anything) and we check for this and that.  Some stuff we can deal with,
give medicine for, give vitamins for and help.
Then in the lower
corner of the paper is the dreaded test – the one this lab never seems
to be wrong about.  HIV.  We always glance there first.  The doctor
usually underlines the result in yellow or puts a star by it.  Like we
wouldn’t notice an HIV positive.  Like we would forget to look. 
All too often – 7 out of 55 women to be exact – have tested positive in our program.  We have one Hepatitis
B and 7 HIV positives.  The statistics are not good.  It is not a
statistic that sits before us when we meet with her.  It is a living,
hurting, poor, Haitian, pregnant young woman who we give the awful news
to.  The lab test is positive for HIV.  We watch as recognition settles
in.  Most are stoic some are tearful all are afraid.  Two won’t tell
their spouses because they will be blamed.
We pray with them, we cry
with them, we set up appointments for them to go to DASH or GHEISCO,
two HIV programs with drug cocktails that can keep a person from
getting sick for years.  We are grateful for these programs.  They are
a light in the darkness.
John
tells us to never believe the first test result (he is our optimist!)
and for them to get tested again.  He is always believing that a test
could be wrong and we are ever hopeful this could be the case.  It has
not been thus far.
Yesterday Tara, Paige and I sat with a beautiful
young woman and gave her the news.  We cried with her.  She went to
DASH today and came back with another positive test  and when asked if
she will tell her spouse she said "Of course not, he won’t be happy
with me."  Like she caused this.  Our hearts ache for her. 
HIV is
not the death sentence it used to be.  We still have obstacles though. 
Keeping people compliant, making sure they have public transportation
money, making sure they keep their appointments, making sure they
believe the medicine will help them are all obstacles.  We have an
employee who goes to appointments with them so that everything gets
taken care of.  It is an uphill battle.  And then, what about the
baby?  
If
7 of our 55 women are positive it makes you wonder how many are out
there that will never be tested and therefore never get on meds.  I’m
glad we have a program that does lab work and although we hate the
dreaded HIV positives knowing can be life saving.  And that is what
it’s all about – God saving lives and saving souls!

Beth McHoul

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Comments
  1. Unknown says:

    Well said, Beth.

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