Direct Relief provides essential medical resources to the most vulnerable communities in the U.S. and worldwide, to improve the health and lives of people affected by poverty or emergency situations.
Real LifeNepal's Critical Drug Shortage: HIV Meds Shouldn't Be This Hard To Get
At the age of 13, Shanti Tamang Lama, a young woman from central Nepal, was drugged and imprisoned in a brothel in Mumbai, India. It was two years until a police raid gave her an opportunity to escape. She returned to Nepal, but sadly, she had contracted HIV.
Shanti struggled with her health for years until she found an antiretroviral drug regimen that works for her. Shanti, age 35, now helps other HIV positive women and children through Shakti Samuha, the nonprofit organization where she works.
The earthquake and a border blockade with India have dramatically reduced the flow of medications into Nepal, including drug therapies for HIV.
On a visit to the doctor in August, Shanti was told that the hospital was out of her HIV medication.
A few days later, she sent another text.
"I have already visited many hospitals and had many meetings with doctors but couldn't find any solution of my problem, so dear friends, please pray for me."
Her friends did more than that.
They circulated her messages until they reached Nepal's Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) and the National Centre for AIDS and STD Control (NCASC). In turn, the MoHP reached out to Direct Relief with a request for the antiretroviral drugs that Shanti and other patients living with HIV/AIDS desperately need.
Shanti's medicine was sent by Direct Relief via air freight. People living with HIV can live long, fulfilling lives, but only if they have access to medicine. For now, in Nepal, Shanti and others do.