JB was only 12 years old when he was diagnosed as HIV positive. He was first brought to University Teaching Hospital (UTH) in Lusaka after having two weeks of severe headaches and vomiting. After he was admitted, JB’s health quickly degenerated.
A simple blood sample determined that JB had malaria. But despite the malaria treatment JB received, the left side of his body became paralyzed after five days of taking the malaria medication. Soon after the paralysis, JB fell into a coma.
Two weeks after JB was admitted to UTH, he was tested for HIV. JB’s test results came out positive. Soon after running additional tests, the UTH medical staff determined that JB had a rare and unusual diagnosis of tuberculoma with TB meningitis. JB was immediately started on appropriate medication and his progress was constantly monitored by UTH staff. Despite the efforts to fight the TB, JB developed frequent convulsions and irregular movements in his arms and legs. He remained in a coma for three months.
JB’s initial CD4 count, when diagnosed with HIV, was 222 cells/ul – far below a healthy CD4 count, which is normally between 800-1500 cells/ul. JB was started on antiretroviral therapy (ART) after nearly three months in the hospital.
When JB began ART, he was only 48.5 lbs at a height of 4 foot, 1 inch. One year later JB had gained over 15 pounds and grew 2 more inches; more importantly, his CD4 count had risen to 884 cells/ul, well within the normal range.
Since his hospitalization, UTH staff have closely followed JB’s health through the specialized ART follow-up clinic supported by the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). After extensive physical therapy, JB is now back in school repeating the fourth grade.
Looking at JB now, one would never know JB was ever ill. JB’s doctors joke with him saying that the only long-term effects from his recent illness are his excessive smiling and laughing. His mother remarked, “I thought he was going to die. It is unbelievable that he can walk!