Mary H.

DIGITAL CAMERA

Mary intake photo November, 2010.

DOB November 6, 1996

Came under Tumaini care November, 2010.

Mary is 14 years old, and currently weighs 30 kg.,  She attended public, primary school in her village of Ndoombo, about half way up Mount Meru and has consistently performed in the top ten of her class of upwards of one hundred plus students.  Mary (until coming to Tumaini) lived with her aging and very poor Bibi (grandmother) after losing both of her parents to AIDS.  Mary herself is HIV+ and the extreme poverty she and her Bibi struggle with has prohibited her from a) getting to a monthly clinic where her CD4 count can be checked and where she can receive free ARV’s (antiretrovirals), medications which help to suppress the disease, and b) having access to plentiful, nutritious, protein and vegetable rich food which strengthens the body and further helps stave off the progression of AIDS.

Our immune systems contain different cells which help protect the body from infection.  One such cell is called the CD4 or T cell.  HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) attacks these cells, replicates itself, and eventually weakens the immune system making it unable to protect the body from illness and infection.  HIV is monitored by counting the CD4 cells present in a blood sample.  With respect to CD4 counts, the higher, the better.  Uninfected people have a CD4 count between 700 and 1,000.  HIV infected persons are considered to be in the “normal” range if the count is above 500.  If the CD4 count should drop below 200, a person is considered to have “AIDS”, or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.  Someone with AIDS is now especially vulnerable to one of many “opportunistic infections” such as pneumonia or tuberculosis which is the killer.  One doesn’t die of AIDS, but of the infection permitted to enter the body because of its vulnerability.  So, a CD4 count below 200 and you’re considered to have AIDS . . . Mary’s last CD4 count?  87.