Praveen – India

Praveen showed signs of TB since birth, but was not formally diagnosed until 2001, at age three. His mother had been diagnosed with both HIV and DR-TB when Praveen was an infant, and she had trouble adhering to her treatment. Praveen was also diagnosed with HIV and suffered from malnutrition, making him very susceptible to TB co-infection. Praveen was diagnosed with DR-TB in 2011, ten years after his initial TB diagnosis.

Because Praveen was barely a teenager when he was diagnosed with DR-TB, treatment posed a particular challenge. Praveen has struggled to take all of his DR-TB and HIV medications every day. The bad taste of the medications and side effects made adherence all the more difficult.

Praveen is still on treatment for both HIV and DR-TB. The harsh side effects of his treatment, include nausea and low thyroid levels, have affected Praveen’s health, appearance, and social life, which worries his mother. Because the community is aware of Praveen and his mother’s HIV-positive status, they are isolated from many social activities. Praveen’s mother is unable to work due to the side effects from her treatment, so Praveen’s older brother is responsible for supporting the family, and the financial impact on the family due to HIV and DR-TB has been substantial.

TB has not only negatively impacted Praveen; the ripple effect has extended through his entire family. Improved prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of both TB and HIV are essential to improving the lives of those affected by DR-TB and HIV. Earlier diagnosis and treatment of pregnant women and their infants needs to be implemented. If Praveen’s mother had access to better treatment initially, she would have been better able to care for Praveen and less likely to transmit both TB and HIV to him. If Praveen had access to better nutrition as an infant, he would have been less susceptible to disease as well. More affordable medications and programs that assist with reducing costs to patient families are also essential. If the financial burden were not placed solely on the patients and their families, Praveen’s brother would have a better chance at pursuing an education which would help him support his family. Many improvements in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of TB are needed so that the lives of children like Praveen, and their families, are no longer irreparably altered by tuberculosis.

Story Collected by: Petros Isaakidis, Roma Paryani, Santosh Jha, Médecins San Frontières, Mumbai, India