Ms. Fatou is a single mother who lives with her 3-year-old daughter in the remote village of Zabarmari, Nigeria. The village, like most in Borno State, was greatly affected by bombings and terrorist attacks perpetrated by the Boko Haram insurgency. As a result, Ms. Fatou and her daughter became isolated. For a long time, they had little or no interaction with other people. She became sick. Pale, malnourished, and unable to stand unsupported, Ms. Fatou began to feel hopeless about her future.
In Nigeria, an estimated 2 million people live with HIV, according to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS. With the support of the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, Chemonics began implementing the USAID-funded Nigeria Strategic HIV/AIDS and TB Response Program (SHARP) Task Order 3 in March 2020. Through this project, our teams have provided daily support to frontline health workers at 126 facilities in six Nigerian states, engaging community health volunteers to identify new cases, link patients to care, provide counseling, and update and monitor data.
The project organized a targeted, community-based HIV case finding test in Borno, close to Zabarmari. Ms. Fatou decided to participate. When her test result came back positive, the news initially devastated her. She was reluctant to start treatment. She said she felt hopeless and unable to continue with her routine, and at one point she even thought that she was prepared to die.
However, after participating in client-focused counseling sessions to address her fears surrounding antiretroviral therapy (ART), Ms. Fatou decided to begin an optimized ART regimen. This regimen consists of using tenofovir disoproxil fumarate, a potent and convenient treatment for suppressing viral load. The SHARP Task Order 3 team supported her with hematinic — a nutrient required for the formation of red blood cells — and put her in contact with a nutritionist. Three weeks after she began treatment, Ms. Fatou was able to carry her daughter again and resume her routine and chores.
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