Before I started taking the medication, I was getting sick frequently and as such, I missed school a lot. I couldn’t even play with my friends and this made me sad, but now because of my new medication, I play a lot.
– Sada Kasimu
Sada Kasimu was 11 years old in March 2017 when he learned he was HIV-positive. The mobile health clinic that shared his results didn’t follow protocol, failing to properly counsel the boy from southern Malawi and throwing him into a tailspin.
“Sada did not take this information well. He resorted to violence,” says his grandmother Estele Namphinda. “He beat me on the way home and when we arrived, he refused to enter the hut saying he would rather sleep outside because he had nothing to fear for he was already dead. I tried to comfort him with food but he threw it away.”
Days turned to months, and Sada’s anger did not subside. He slept in the house, but refused to go to the health facility where he had been referred to begin antiretroviral therapy. Then, in September 2017, Sada started to get sick.
Affack Kasenda from the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs’ One Community project went to see Sada. Kasenda was unable to get Sada to listen, so called in his supervisor to help. After weeks of conversations, the men were finally able to convince Sada to start taking his medicine. These days, Kasenda picks up Sada on his bicycle and takes him to the health facility for regular checkups and for his medication.
“Sada is now a healthy boy,” says his grandmother. “He can now do everything a boy of his age is capable of doing. He no longer gives me problems when it is time to take his medication. In fact, I do not even remind him.”
Sada has even become an advocate among his peers living with HIV, working to help them understands the live-saving benefits of antiretroviral therapy.
Says Sada: “Before I started taking the medication, I was getting sick frequently and as such, I missed school a lot. I couldn’t even play with my friends and this made me sad, but now because of my new medication, I play a lot.”