Thursday, 4 March 2010


Pankaj came to the JSK centre today with his father. An uncle of his had called up from Kerala a few days ago. Pankaj came back from Dubai 3 years ago. He was found to be HIV positive and deported.

Now Pankaj is very sick. So sick that we wonder if we can really treat him. His immunity is very low. He has pneumonia. Its likely that the has other infections too.

Pankaj clearly needs help. His father has come up from Kerala to look after him. Pankaj's father is at wits end. He wants to take his son home - but Pankaj refuses to go. He doesn't want others to know about his condition. He doesn't want people to know he has HIV. He knows that tongues will wag.

In the meantime - Pankaj has not been able to keep himself together. His skin has multiple rashes and infections. He has trouble breathing. He came with a fever of 105 degrees F.

Sheba strongly suggested shifting him to the main govt. hospital in Mumbai. Pankaj refuses to go. He went there earlier and was treated shabbily. In the mean time he has been admitted multiple times at different hospitals. He kept his HIV status hidden each time he went. He has been treated for various ailments - has had drips and drugs - but keeps getting sick.

His father is at wits end. This noble small man is heroically looking after his recalcitrant son. A laboratory technician, this dear man knows about HIV and yearns to take his son home. As a father he is getting a barrage of questions about what is actually going on with Pankaj. He cannot bring himself to tell people about the HIV status - and so is telling people that Pankaj has liver problems - and that it is not getting better quickly.

It is clear that Pankaj does not only need meds. He needs love and acceptance too. He needs courage to make a step in the right direction - and start to accept love and support from his family.

We have admitted Pankaj for treatment. Our hope is that we will be able to stabilise him. We then hope to have him go back with his father to Kerala. One of Sheba's batch-mates from the Fellowship in HIV Medicine that she did at Vellore is practicing in a large govt. hospital close to where Pankaj lives. This doctor has won a national award for his excellence in HIV medicine.

Though we have a long way to go with Pankaj we are glad that he has a safe place to be tonight. Our hope is that we will be able to start the necessary treatments, based on understanding what opportunistic infections he has. At the same time, we firmly believe what king Solomon wrote a good 3000 years ago that "a heart at peace brings life to the body" (Prov. 14.30). Would that Pankaj will find some peace here - and would that this peace will go with him when he leaves.

I have to cry when I think of the noble man Pankaj's father is. He has been through so much - and still is serving his son - hoping against hope. This is love in action. What a privilege to serve this small splintered family.


Its the first time in a while that we have two patients admitted at JSK. They are at close quarters with only the green screen separating them. We are discharging Mrs. Shasta this evening. She will need further care at home as she still has a spiking fever, but she has been stabilised by her 10 days of care at JSK. We are really proud of our staff who make it possible to love people with HIV who are very ill in this way!

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