Wednesday, 30 July 2014

A man with a hat

Enoch and I had just crossed the busy road, and were headed to the gate of our apparment complex, laden with packages when a man wearing a floppy hat walked up to me and exchanged a few words.

We are not in the 30s and 40s where most men wore hats - either European ones or the local type.

Mumbai in another age...
This man wears a floppy hat which would quite at home on some cricket match.  Every time I have seen him he wears it.

"Who is that?" asked Enoch after we had entered the compound gate.

"One of our patients" I told Enoch and left it at that.

Over the years I have seen "Ranbir"in different places.  The first place was our old JSK clinic.  After he found out that he was HIV positive he started to get visits by our team in his home.  We helped him start on the Anti-Retroviral Medication when his immunity went down.

Ranbir was one of our early patients - one for whom we started his ART medication from far-away JJ Hospital.  When the ART centre was opened in Thane, he refused to go there - "too many people know me" he said.

That was years ago.  And he is still at it.  Busily living.

Today, he came up to me and told me happily that his CD4 level had gone up to 1060!

I don't think I ever dreamed of a meeting people with HIV on the street and hearing from them that their CD4 levels are basically at what a normal healthy person would expect to have.

We have had a quiet miracle grow up in our midst - free ART meds from the government - and a cohort of people who regularly go every month to get these meds - and take them too!

If 'Ranbir' did not take his ART, he would be dead today.

But he is not.  He is very much alive.

We are so grateful to be part of this fairly silent revolution.  An amazing set of opportunities that has changed the old AIDS = death equation to one where if you take your ART meds faithfully you can live.

Even men with floppy hats!

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