Thursday, 23 August 2012

A new life

Sheba went out into the dark and the rain earlier tonight.

We had finished our family prayers - currently reading through the Psalms - and I was awaiting the two men from church who normally come every Wednesday night for a 9.30-10.30 PM prayer slot.

Sheba went to check on a very sick man with HIV who we admitted earlier in the day at Jeevan Sahara Kendra.  While she was there she got a call.

A young woman who was expecting her first child had experienced the first throes of birth pains.  Carla - as we will call her - is due in September.  But we have found that for young women with HIV who are giving birth to their first child - the kid often comes sooner.

Carla is an unwed 22 year old who has had HIV since birth.  There is a silent generation of young people with HIV.  Young people who have never had the 'shock' of finding out that they have the disease - because they have always had it.

The challenge for them is coming to terms that they actually are infected.  A month ago Carla told Sheba that she thought she did not have the disease - and that she should be retested to show that.  Sheba had in her hand recent reports that showed that Carla not only had HIV - but because she had been haphazard in her medications - the virus was at alarming levels in her blood.  Her strain of virus had become resistant to the medicines that Carla had been taking in the lax way of youth - of a person who does not believe that they have the disease.

Carla got to know a young man at the clinic where she was getting her medicines from.  The relationship blossomed, but when she became pregnant he told her to abort.  She has not told him that she is HIV positive.  The last few months have seen Carla live on the fringe.  Her widowed mother (who also has HIV) has 2 other daughters and does not want Carla back home.  The story about Carla's disappearance has been told with various fabrications.  One of them was that Carla went back to the village.  Problem is that someone went there and found no Carla.

We have been encouraging Carla and her mother to go back home and face the truth - and for one of the local churches that they are involved with to support them.  Neither wants to do it.  We cannot force.

We had sent Carla to a well-known place for women and children - but they were so afraid of her HIV that they told people not to talk with her.  We got a very sad and thin Carla back after her 2 months there.  And so we nursed her back to health at the JSK centre.

Since she refused to go back home - with her mother vigorously agreeing to this - and steering Carla's thoughts in this direction too - we had to look for alternatives.

We found one in a saintly tough woman who has a special heart for young women in distress - young women who have been living on the edge.  This social worker took Carla in - housing her in a tiny 'group house' with 3 other girls - including another HIV positive mother.

Its no bed of roses here.  But its at least a place of hope.

So when Sheba got the news that Carla's pains had started, she headed over to this room.  The pains were slight, but the baby's head is right in position - and we expect to wake up in the morning with the news of Carla's baby.

A new life.  Will this child have HIV?  We managed to persuade Carla to start on 2nd line ART treatment - which has been generously provided by a partner NGO who specializes in helping out with 2nd line ART and TB treatment.  One reason was so that the level of HIV in her blood would be as low as possible for during the final part of her pregnancy and into her delivery.

Its 1 AM now and its pouring outside.

On the other side of the city of Thane a child is being born.

A new life.

No comments:

Post a Comment