The most beautiful smile

April 12, 2010

Caitlin McQuilling

On Saturday one of our new HIV positive patients, a tribal woman living below the poverty line in Jhabua , came into our office distraught. She had just found out that she was accidentally pregnant, and while she and her husband had been trying for a child for a long time before they found out that they were HIV+, she was contemplating terminating the pregnancy because of her HIV+ status. As she told us her story the sadness in the room was tangible. She spoke in barely an audible whisper and hung her head low, staring at the ground with utter defeat.

Jimmy and Dr. Toegel counseled the woman and her husband that if she adheres to her ART treatment, taking good care of herself during pregnancy, and has a C-section, there is a 95% chance that her child can be born HIV negative. They referred her to a friend of ours who is an expert in PPTCT – prevention of parent to child transmission of HIV – at the nearby government hospital in Indore who will manage her case and with regular ANC checkups, will help to ensure that the child will be born HIV-.

As we gave our patient and her husband this counseling, the most beautiful smile I’ve ever seen came over her face. Her dull eyes became suddenly bright. Glowing and grinning ear to ear, our patient beamed at her husband. She and her husband had never heard of PPTCT treatment and had no idea that its possible for their child to be borne HV negative. The smile of a women who just found out that there is a new chance for life for her unborn child is something beyond words.

Today Setu, one of our volunteers from the US and a physicians assistant, went to Indore with the family to get their first checkup. While we have a long 6 months ahead of us (our patient is 3 months pregnant already), we will do everything we can to support this family and to ensure that their child is healthy and happy.

Country Page: India Initiative Page: HIV/AIDS Prevention & Care Program