Meet the 2019 Healthcare Provider Champions - Haiti
Johny Lafleur nominated Loochard Theodore for:
Taking his time to explain what antiretroviral therapy (ART) is and how it can help a person living with HIV. When I found out I was HIV positive, it was not easy to take my medication. I thought life was over, that I could not work anymore. “What would I say to my family and my close friends?” I wondered. When I shared this with Loochard, he really took his time to explain to me what ART is and how it could help me. It took me time to accept this, but he succeeded in convincing me. I am not an easy person to convince. I consider him as a hero in my life. He always checks on me if I had food, what type of food, if and how I took my medication. He checks if I have hobbies, as it was difficult for me to relax, especially when I just started the medication.
Loochard Theodore: I am #DoingTheRightThing because...
We all have the same rights and we all should fight for one cause: access to healthcare for all. I provide stigma and discrimination free services. Many of us have deceased relatives due to AIDS. This makes me personally devoted to work with key populations. My love for my work today comes from the death of my mother. I lost my mother in 2001 when I was 11 years old and she was 27 – it is also when I found out that my little brother was born HIV-positive. I told myself that it was important for others not to die the way my mother did and I decided to work with key populations. It is important to develop trainings, to provide medication, to help others move forward, to help them accept the person that they are. If we had these initiatives at the time, today my mother would still be alive. Stigmatization and discrimination is a human right violation, because when you stigmatize someone, you remove their value, you belittle them, you could even bring the person to attempt suicide.
Felix Yolande nominated Rose Mirlande Blaise for:
Showing great empathy and understanding. I was transferred to the Clinic, Bethel de Fond, in poor health. There, I was immediately suspected of having pulmonary tuberculosis (TB) despite having previously been treated.
At the clinic, I was received by a nurse who showed great empathy and understanding towards me. She immediately appreciated the nature of my general condition, how ill I was, and understood my mood. At this stage, I had become discouraged because of the disease, and felt tired of living.
She told me about HIV, how it is transmitted and how I might have become HIV-positive through unprotected sexual relations with my clients. She also shared with me information about the benefits of taking antiretroviral treatment. Going forward, she taught me how I can protect myself from other sexually transmitted illnesses.
After the conversations with her, I felt reborn, and right away knew that my life was not over. I became aware that I could still live and be there for my children; if I adhered to treatment every day as Miss Blaise had explained to me. My life has completely changed since then. And at the facility, we are like a big family where all the patients feel at home – thanks to the unconditional support of Miss Blaise. I have since always felt well supported.
Miss Blaise is always available to listen, give advice on the importance of good adherence. As I always testify during support group discussions, I am alive today thanks to Miss Blaise and the antiretroviral treatment, of course. Miss Blaise has greatly contributed to my recovery and has positively influenced my life.
Today, for two years I have been living a normal life with an undetectable viral load. I have always counted on the support of Miss Blaise to advise me on adherence, how to keep my viral suppression and prevent other sexually transmitted illnesses for example by using condoms.
Antilde Pierrelus nominated Saint Mius Emmanuel for:
His support. In 2017, I collected all my courage to try my luck one last time and to get tested at the FOSREF facility. All my income by then was spent on alternative treatments. I was tested that same day and the test came out reactive. Following this, I had an appointment to come and discuss my test results at the center but I preferred to stay at home and wait for what will happen to me. The social worker called me every day, and I would say to him: “I'm on my way” – which was false. One day a man (a social worker) who had arrived on a motorcycle knocked on my door. He invited me to go with him to the center. I went with him and upon arrival at his office, I no longer had the strength to cry; I could only accept the reality that “I am HIV-positive”.
He asked me a couple of questions to get us acquainted, and intimated that I could ask him any questions I had about HIV. He begged me to trust him and to trust the potency of antiretroviral therapy to regain my strength. During the treatment period, I sometimes wanted to give up, but at each appointment, he encouraged me to continue.
Compounding this, my economic situation had become worse every day and I could not manage to pay for transport to the center. When he saw that I could not go, he would pick me up. He encouraged me to be more independent and to go back to work. He took a photo of me on the day of the screening and when I felt discouraged, he would show me the photo to show my improvement.
Before I was on treatment, I was alone, but now I can tell you that I have a family. When I feel discouraged or overwhelmed, I have an ear that is ready to listen to me. After six months of antiretroviral treatment, my viral load is now undetectable. Physically, I feel better and have even started to attract new clients.
I will never stop thanking Master Manoo for his support. I think he did a lot for the other patients, but for me he accompanied me through this process and I feel reborn.
Marie Claude Joseph nominated Cassandre Denis for:
Checking-in for more than a day with her gave me courage, made me accept my HIV status, and embrace my humanity. I am a commercial sex worker and it has been two years since I have been living with HIV. When I got my test result, I was shocked. I have three boys at home, the situation was very difficult. When I got home, I felt many things. I thought it was right to tell my mother but I was wrong because she told my secret to everyone in our neighborhood. One day I decided to make coffee, when I went to buy coffee, the coffee seller, a good friend of my mother knew about my private life. While buying the powder, the seller ordered me not to touch the powder so I did not transmit HIV to other buyers. He took the coffee bag and put it aside from the rest. Imagine? Putting the coffee bag aside really hurt me. I felt as if he had stabbed me. It was as if he put me in a coffin and buried me alive. It hurt me. I felt devalued by the society, I felt annoyed. People pointed fingers at me.
When I went to see Miss Cassandre, she checked me in and spent more than a day with me even though she had others waiting. This gave me courage. I felt like a human being. Through my visits and our talks with Miss Cassandre, I finally accepted myself as for who I am.
Cassandre: I am #DoingTheRightThing because…
People living with HIV are human just like you. How would you feel if you were denied healthcare because you are HIV positive? My first approach in providing care is to reverse the roles by putting the person in the other person’s shoes. If you cannot put yourself into someone’s shoes, you will not be able to feel what they are going through and you will not understand that person either. What if it was one of your relatives, your family member, your child or your friend in that situation? Once you reverse the roles and label the person, it changes their perspective. A disease or social status does not take away anything from a person’s humanity. Today you refuse to provide healthcare services to a person because of your position, tomorrow that person might deny you access to a service because of his or her position. Every time you refuse to help break the chains of discrimination, you participate in creating people affected by it and that could be you or your family. As a professional, I strongly believe that everyone deserves a chance and that their rights need to be respected. Each time you treat someone without discrimination, you help someone to feel better and they in turn help another person to feel better as well.