January #98 : Living on Hope - by Barbara Zeller, MD

POZ - Health, Life and HIV
Subscribe to:
POZ magazine
Join POZ: Facebook MySpace Twitter Pinterest
Tumblr Google+ Flickr MySpace
POZ Personals
Sign In / Join

Back to home » Archives » POZ Magazine issues

Table of Contents

10 Ways to End AIDS (in 10 years)

Happy New You

Political Science

"Prevention" for Positives

Habitats for HIVers

On the Job

Going Under Cover

All the Right Places

2024: AIDS Cured, ex-PWAs Ignored

Trouble Indemnity


Show & Gel

Healthful Humor

Living on Hope


High Resolution: New Year’s Creeds

2004: What’s In, What’s Out?


When Your CD4s Count

New Med on the Shelf

Quick Study: Virus in Vaginas

Strike a Pose

Chicago Hope?

Quick Study: Hep C

Watch Your Mouth


CMV Drug Does Double Duty

Bed Head

Unreality TV


Publisher's Letter

Amazing Race

Most Popular Lessons

The HIV Life Cycle


Herpes Simplex Virus

Syphilis & Neurosyphilis

Treatments for Opportunistic Infections (OIs)

What is AIDS & HIV?

Hepatitis & HIV

email print

January 2004

Living on Hope

by Barbara Zeller, MD

A New York HIV doc at ground zero, South Africa

Last summer, I volunteered as a physician in Durban, South Africa, hoping my experience treating HIVers in New York City could be of use in the coastal Kwazulu-Natal (KZN) province. The former seat of the great Zulu Kingdom, KZN has an infection rate of 36 percent. Its leaders have been the country’s most outspoken in challenging the government for not providing HIV meds through the public health system.

On my first day at a nongovernment clinic called Sinikithemba (“We give hope”), a center of excellence for HIV care, I was touched by the doctors’ warmth yet taken aback as each encounter with patients was mediated by what they could afford. Despite subsidies, the hospital must charge minimal fees to keep afloat amid the AIDS influx. The words stuck in my throat as I’d tell a crestfallen patient unable to pay for HIV meds, “Let’s talk about what else might help you today.”

Princess X., 51, arrived with a cough; her partner had died last year. “Do you have 100 rand [about $14] for the CD4 test?” No. “Twenty rand for a chest X-ray?” Yes.

Pretty P., 31, with a CD4 count of 14, had been on HAART for two months. Her husband is positive, and so is one of her two little girls. Her family, who joined her in the clinic, could afford to treat only one of them. Mom was sickest.

Thembo, 27, gaunt from his second bout of TB, had lost his job. No, he could not afford HIV meds. The physician told him we are all on earth for only a little time, and if he stayed close to Jesus, he would be in His arms for eternity.

I sank into despair. I needed to focus on what was doable—to find some peace with being a drop in a torrent. Then, in August, the government announced a forthcoming drug plan—a glimmer of hope. In my last days there, two home-care hospice women led me to a rural mud house where a sick baby with AIDS drank black tea in squalor. For them, the new possibility of going into the community with treatment rather than only comfort was truly a miracle.

[Go to top]

Facebook Twitter Google+ MySpace YouTube Tumblr Flickr Instagram
Quick Links
Current Issue

HIV Testing
Safer Sex
Find a Date
Newly Diagnosed
HIV 101
Disclosing Your Status
Starting Treatment
Help Paying for Meds
Search for the Cure
POZ Stories
POZ Opinion
POZ Exclusives
Read the Blogs
Visit the Forums
Job Listings
Events Calendar
POZ on Twitter

Ask POZ Pharmacist

Talk to Us
Has a pet helped you deal with your HIV?


more surveys
Contact Us
We welcome your comments!
[ about Smart + Strong | about POZ | POZ advisory board | partner links | advertising policy | advertise/contact us | site map]
© 2016 Smart + Strong. All Rights Reserved. Terms of use and Your privacy.
Smart + Strong® is a registered trademark of CDM Publishing, LLC.