Kak Zu (not real name) is a 42-year-old widow from Seremban, Negeri Sembilan, who lost her husband to AIDS. She is raising two boys, both in primary schools, on her RM1,000 monthly salary as a RELA Officer at KLIA 2.
She was diagnosed with HIV in 2009 and was immediately prescribed with first-line ARV treatment. However, despite of her doctor’s best efforts, Masmy’s health continued to deteriorate. She suffered weight loss and was very frail at this time. She could only perform menial jobs and was surviving on her late husband’s monthly SOCSO allowance of RM350 a month.
Responding to this critical situation, her doctor prescribed her with Tenvir EM, an effective but very expensive ARV that costs nearly RM420 per month. Tenvir EM, like many other second-line ARV are not provided free at public hospitals and it was clear that she could not afford to sustain the treatment.
Sponsorship by PAL Scheme began in 2014 and that marked an important turning point in her life. Within two years of taking Tenvir EM, her viral load dramatically decreased from 35,000 copies/ml blood in 2014 to an undetectable level in 2016. Her CD4+ counts also showed good improvement, growing from 300 to 400 cells per cubic ml.
With her health improving, Masmy is able to earn a living once again and is determined to work harder for her children’s sake.