José – Peru

The name of the child in this story has been changed to protect confidentiality.

José, 15 years old, was leading the life of a normal teenager in Lima, playing soccer, going to school and hanging out with his friends. When he began to feel extremely tired, his mother thought it was just a normal part of teenage development.

But one day, José’s mother was talking to a relative about their neighborhood, Cerro San Cosme, who mentioned how it had many tuberculosis (TB) cases. José’s mother took him to the hospital. There, he was confirmed to have TB. This greatly alarmed his mother, because José had an uncle who had lived in the same house as them, and who had been receiving treatment for TB for over ten years. From 1998, the uncle had abandoned course after course of increasingly intensive treatment regimens, ending with an individualized treatment plan, which he currently takes in prison.

Given this history, José’s doctors decided to wait for the results of drug susceptibility testing of José’s strain before starting treatment. While José waited for his results, he had a severe instance of coughing up blood, and underwent emergency hospitalization. His doctors, recognizing treatment could no longer wait, started him immediately on second-line TB drugs. The following day, José’s strain was confirmed resistant to two first-line drugs, indicating multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB).

José was hospitalized for 12 days. Afterwards, he began taking his medications in the health center. After four months of treatment, he now feels much better. But he still suffers from his daily injections. He hopes that his doctor will reassess him to see if it is possible to remove the injection part of the treatment regimen, and he can begin to resume his normal teenage life.

Story Collected by: Cynthia Pinedo, Carmen Contreras and Leonid Lecca (Partners In Health)