When Mr. Abdul, a 50-year-old serving officer in the Nigeria Police Force, learned that he had two chronic, life-threatening diseases at the same time, the psychological toll was one of the most difficult and overwhelming experiences of his life.
In November 2018, he arrived at the Muhammad Shuwa Memorial Hospital presenting with symptoms suggestive of HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis (TB) co-infection. Hospital staff counselled him according to standard guidelines and protocols and collected blood samples for diagnostics. After testing positive for HIV, Mr. Abdul cried, wondering what would happen to his family and worrying for his life. Hospital staff reassured him, however, that both diseases can be effectively managed and that his quality of life could be maintained or even improved with regular counseling, medication, and routine testing to monitor recovery or disease suppression.
The health workers at the hospital moved quickly to initiate Mr. Abdul on antiretroviral therapy (ART) following post-test counseling. A week later, he received a positive TB diagnosis and began further treatment. Because taking ART and TB drugs was not easy for Mr. Abdul, hospital staff assigned him a case manager to support him through the first few months after his diagnosis and ensure that he adhered to the treatment. The case manager provided psychosocial support and counseling to Mr. Abdul, discussed next steps, and emphasized the importance of adhering to the treatment, sending him regular text message reminders.
Six months later, Mr. Abdul was eligible for viral load testing, which measures the amount of HIV in a person’s blood. When the initial results indicated a high viral load level, he was immediately placed on enhanced adherence counseling. His case manager provided consistent support, reminding him that adherence to the treatment would support a long and healthy life with HIV and cure his TB. Mr. Abdul says that he latched on to those words like a life vest and began to regain hope.
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