Therese didn’t think she would make it. Hardly able to stand to her full height of 5’ 4”, she weighed just 85 pounds when she first came to one of Hope Through Health’s clinics in Togo. HIV was decimating her immune system, leaving her vulnerable to bacterial infections. A count of the T-cells in her blood revealed that, while a normal count ranges from 500 to 1000, Therese had just 24. “No matter how sick I was, all I could think about was my 5 year old son,” Therese said. “I knew that I had to survive for him.”
Thanks to the Global Fund, Therese was able to get the medication necessary to rebuild her immune system. However, the medications alone wouldn’t provide all the support that she needed. “The medicine was so strong. I was nauseous all the time and kept throwing up. I used to take just half the dosage so that the side effects wouldn’t be so bad.” Hope Through Health assigned Therese a Community Health Worker, a Hope Through Health member who was also living with HIV and was already experienced in the treatment regimen. Her Community Health Worker counseled Therese to take the whole dosage, explaining that the side effects would soon pass. In order to calm these side effects, Therese was linked with Hope Through Health’s Nutrition Program, where she received food assistance to assure that she was taking the medicine on a full stomach.
That was 7 years ago. Now, Therese weighs 120 pounds and keeps strict adherence to her treatment regimen. “Thanks to Hope Through Health, I have found strength again!” Therese said as she held back tears of gratitude. “Did you know that I till, sow, and harvest my own corn field?” Indeed, her immune system is now strong enough to function normally, with a T-cell count of nearly 500. “If it weren’t for Hope Through Health, I would have passed away a long time ago. My son is now 13 years old and in a few years he will participate in the men’s initiation rituals. I can grow old in peace now.”
Hope Through Health invites you to Stand With Therese and join our Stand With Us Campaign. For only $20 a month you can ensure the health of one individual living with HIV in Togo for an entire year. Sign up for a recurring monthly donation of $20 or whatever you can give. Thank you for your support!