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HIV+ father finds health and hope

Posted on: February 17, 2016 2:52 PM
Photo Credit: CMS
Related Categories: CMS, hivaids, Southern Africa

[CMS] An HIV-positive father of four in Durban, South Africa has gone from losing hope to loving life, reports mission associate Bekky Stredwick.

This is thanks to the work of the Hillcrest AIDS Centre Trust (HACT), where Bekky volunteers.

When Joseph (name changed) arrived at the HACT respite unit last summer, he felt close to death. “His CD4 count (measure of immune system strength) was two,” said Bekky. “A healthy person has a CD4 count of 500–1,200. He weighed 44kg.”

Joseph, who contracted HIV in 2007, had been in and out of hospitals for two years, to no avail. “I was getting worse and worse,” Joseph recalled. “My boss was very concerned...so [he] contacted HACT on my behalf and I was admitted.”

The respite unit tried different medications and a new anti-retroviral treatment. After just two weeks, there was a noticeable difference.

“The staff were so caring and the food was good – in two months I was up to 64kg!” said Joseph. Joseph also received physiotherapy and counselling, as well as pastoral care from HACT volunteers like Bekky.

Bekky says, “Joseph hasn’t just experienced physical recovery; spiritually there has been progress too.” 

Whereas Joseph used to spend time and money on alcohol and women, he now says, “Everything has changed. I am embracing my faith again. I have been going to church on Sundays while in the unit. I’ve started to see the world differently. I want to be a good role model... I look forward to being able to work again and provide for my children.”