Woman with enlarged breasts gets help
The woman whose breasts grew as a result of the side effects of her ARVs is now receiving treatment at Charlotte Maxeke Hospital in Johannesburg
LIFE for an HIV-positive woman whose breasts grew abnormally long due to ARV side effects could soon change for the better.
Her breasts have grown down to her knees which has left her homebound because she cannot bear the weight.
On Friday Mavis*, 29, from Ekurhuleni was admitted to Charlotte Maxeke Hospital in Johannesburg after Sowetan highlighted her condition.
After the report, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi ordered that she be assisted.
Head of plastic surgery at the hospital, Elias Ndobe, said: "We are going to run a series of tests and X-rays and get other specialists, physicians and [a] psychologist to have a look at her to prepare her for an eventual operation. The operation is straightforward as it's a bilateral breast reduction. But we need to know exactly what is wrong with her before operating on her".
Mavis also got an apology from Gauteng health MEC Ntombi Mekgwe. This after her department had told Sowetan that the case was not a priority because it was not "life threatening".
Mekgwe said: "I feel as a department we did not respond properly. We should have shown a caring attitude. We can't ask questions if a person says 'I am suffering from something'. We need to check as to how far we can assist."
Mavis was diagnosed in 2006 with HIV and developed ARV-related side effects that affected her mobility, and she could not walk for two years.
Her condition is known as lipodystrophy. It is recognised through changes in fat reduction or redistribution - often in one area - leading to abnormal body shape transformations.
In 2009, Mavis was shocked to learn authorities would no longer help her with the medical procedure and she was referred to Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital and told to pay R10,000 for breast reduction. As a result of the condition, she had to stop working and now survives by selling cooldrinks.
In 2010, she went to Chris Hani Baragwanath for pre-surgery check-ups. She has been waiting for the operation since.
Both Mekgwe and Mavis encourage all people who are HIV positive to take their treatment.
Mekgwe warned that patients should report any physiological changes to their physicians.
She also called on people to get tested and know their status.
*Mavis not her real name