CCT nurse Bopha rolls to a slow stop on her motorbike as she reaches the house where brothers Dara* and Veasna* live with their foster parents. She is here for a routine check-up to see how the boys are doing. Dara and Veasna are in a much better shape compared to when she first met them, after they had just lost both their parents to a lengthy battle with HIV.
After becoming aware of the boys’ family situation, CCT social workers arranged family-based care for them and referred their case to Bopha who recognised the importance of screening Dara and Veasna for the serious infection. Having a medical outreach team ready to respond to the needs of vulnerable cases can mean the difference between health and suffering, and more seriously, between life and death. Dara and Veasna both came back positive for HIV. Dara also had tuberculosis (TB).
According to the World Health Organisation, the risk of developing TB is between 26 and 31 times greater for people who are HIV-positive compared to those living without the infection.
Responding to the diagnosis, Bopha took Dara and Veasna to Battambang Hospital to get the necessary HIV medicine, navigating the system to ensure they could access the treatment they needed. She now visits the brothers at their home every week to monitor their doses, follow-up and see how they are feeling.
“I’ve noticed a massive improvement in their health since they started the treatment program,” she said.
Bopha also accompanied Dara to the Angkor Hospital in Siem Reap multiple times so he could receive treatment for TB. Along with the medicine, Dara’s recovery has been supported with the dietary supplement of milk and milo, which CCT provides. TB symptoms include poor appetite, loss of weight and weakness.
“Milo helps Dara take his medicine and provides him with vital nutrients in an easily consumable way to help him put on weight,” Bopha said.
Accessing these health services has allowed Dara and Veasna to regain their strength. And with their health now under control, they have returned to school and are fully engaged in the activities at CCT’s Community Centre.
“Veasna and Dara are much better now. They are stronger and healthier.”
*Names have been changed to protect privacy.