One area of patient care that Soft Power Health offers its patients is help treating more complicated medical and in some cases social problems. Often the two are closely linked. This can be anything from helping patients get chemotherapy or radiation therapy for various types of cancers, to connecting patients to the right surgeon for the treatment of chronic osteomyelitis. In addition, we have a number of patients who have complicated medical and social histories like having HIV and being very far from any hospital where they can get anti-retroviral therapy. These patients are often malnourished as well, which can further suppress their already compromised immune system. Sometimes these patients show up at the clinic and sometimes we find them when we are out in the field.
One day I was kayaking down at Super Hole and one of the many kids who come to watch us paddle had a nasty abscess in his arm. Since it looked so bad, I organized to bring him back to the clinic to have the abscess drained and treated properly. As part of routine testing we do in Uganda with the patient’s consent, we test for HIV and in some cases malaria. When we brought this boy in, we got a little more family history. He lived with his father and a few younger siblings. His mother had died a couple of years ago of unknown causes though she had apparently been sick for a while.
As it turned out, the boy was HIV positive. Luckily, his CD4 count was high enough that he did not need to be put on anti-retrovirals, but he would need to take Clotrimoxazole daily as prophylaxis for any potential infections he might encounter. We also decided that it would be important to test his father to find out if he was HIV positive and needed treatment as well. Once we tested the father, we discovered that the father was HIV negative and thus the son was a product of a discordant couple, one where one parent is positive and the other is negative. Since we were able to intervene quite early with the son, we can keep a pretty close eye on his health and watch him as time goes by and help him have a healthy adolescence. So far, its been going well. He got over his abscess quite quickly and has been doing well ever since. We are able to check in monthly with the boy and his father and follow his progress. So far, so good!