It started with constant headaches and long periods of sickness for Sushil Kumar before he was diagnosed as HIV positive. He remembers getting a shave at a barbershop close to his home that left a wound. While the wound healed, he started feeling sick soon after. “I went to different doctors and got tested for HIV,but they said my results were negative. I couldn’t understand what was happening to me. Later, one doctor told me I was HIV positive,” Kumar said.
Before being admitted to the MSF centre, he tried to get treatment at multiple private hospitals in Patna. “No private hospital was willing to admit me. One hospital did admit me but discharged me soon. My condition was deteriorating and I felt defeated,” Kumar said. His relatives had heard about MSF’s treatment centre where he was eventually admitted. Kumar was in a coma at MSF’s advanced HIV care centre in Patna for almost two months.
People living with HIV like Kumar help not just in raising awareness about MSF’s treatment centre, but about HIV as well. While Kumar is still undergoing treatment, he is now able to spend more time with his family and is in much better health. “I don’t want other people to go through the same issues that I had before receiving treatment at MSF,” Kumar adds.
Sushil Kumar at MSF’s Garima Ki Kiran clinic in Patna. Photo: MSF
Early this year, MSF inaugurated a specialised ward at the Guru Gobind Singh Hospital (GGSH) in Patna, with the objective of reducing the number of deaths among patients with advanced HIV. Our aim is to increase access to care for people living with HIV, especially for life-threatening infections. We also focus on patient rights and dignity and provide psycho social care and support to the admitted person and his or her family.
A thousand miles away from Patna, in the border town of Moreh in Manipur, Thongsei Lupho also had no clue of his HIV status when he visited MSF’s clinic. Lupho used to be a farmer before he contracted HIV. Now, with his deteriorating health, he is no longer able to work in the field. In Lupho’s case, he contracted HIV through intravenous drug use. He mentioned how tribal tensions had fostered a lack of trust in the village and one way he could gain social acceptance was through drug use. He eventually stopped taking drugs after getting married, but when his health started worsening, he visited MSF’s clinic. Initially, he thought he had tuberculosis. Along with Lupho, his eldest daughter Lamknohat, and several of his other children have also been diagnosed with HIV. While it is difficult for Lupho to find work due to the stigma surrounding HIV, he tries his best to remain active in the community and help support his family.
Thongsei Lupho and his son are on their way to fix the waterpipes that provide water to the village. Copyright: Jan-Joseph Stok/MSF
Along with providing HIV treatment, MSF provides specialised care for TB and Hepatitis C in Manipur. At all three clinics in Chakpikarong, Churachandpur and Moreh, MSF provides screening, diagnosis and treatment for HIV, TB, Hepatitis C and co-infections. As the only medical humanitarian NGO in the state, the focus has been to develop a patient-focused model of care to improve outcomes and minimise the spread of the diseases. In Churanchandpur, MSF also runs an opioid substitution therapy (OST) centre to reduce risk of further infection through sharing of needles.
Last week, we highlighted our model of care in treating sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in New Delhi. In the video, Dr. Yasoda Kurra, who works at the clinic, explains the process involved in treating SGBV survivors, while walking through the different sections inside the clinic. You can watch the video on our youtube page. Do leave comments and let us know what you think!
International staff -
We also welcomed back Shazeer Majeed last month, who was on a three month mission in Yemen, where he worked as a surgeon and medical consultant.. The ongoing conflict that started in 2015 still leaves a large population in need of urgent medical care in the region. A year ago, MSF opened a new emergency room in the Ad Dahi district hospital, where Shazeer was based. The hospital is strategically located because it is surrounded by other districts where people have been severely affected by the ongoing conflict. Do let us know if you wish to get in touch with him!
MSF invites applications for MSF Media Fellowship 2019-20 for journalists to facilitate responsible and respective reporting on issues related to Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV).
The fellowship aims to improve people’s understanding and increase their awareness that SGBV impacts health and requires social support for the survivor.