31 year old Somchai – receives Kaletra for free through MSF
When Somchai from Kalasin in northeast Thailand realised he was HIV positive he just couldn't believe it. He was working in a factory in Bangkok at the time and felt strong and healthy. But then he developed herpes zoster, a painful skin condition, his girlfriend left him and his health further deteriorated until he was no longer able to work. He finally decided to go back to Kalasin where his mother could take care of him. Only when he started ARVs did he regain hope of a better life. As he grew stronger he took on a new job. Five years went by before he relapsed and the doctor broke the terrible news. He was no longer responding to his drugs. "I felt totally devastated. I was so sick at the time I thought I wouldn't make it. I couldn’t stand or even sleep." Somchai is not one of the few patients who receive the drug for free through the national health system. MSF provides him his monthly supply of Kaletra instead. Somchai hasn't been able to get back to work yet. He goes fishing, and sells eggs from his mother's ducks making an average of 120 baht a day to be split between his sister and his mother. "I'm too poor to pay for the drugs myself and even if it was 500 baht, I still wouldn't be able to afford it" he says "I hope the government will soon be able to provide the drug for free to all those who need it, so that people like me can go back to work"