Sipho’s TB Success Story: From Broken to Triumphant


Sipho, a 31 year old male, was transferred directly to the Helderberg Hospice in-patient unit from the local hospital late in 2015.  At the time of referral, Sipho was very weak and barely able to communicate. 

He had been diagnosed with pulmonary TB and Cryptococcal Meningitis while in hospital, and needed assistance with mobilisation and general build-up. 

He appeared to be neglected and at that point was fully dependent on the care of others.  As Sipho lived alone in an informal structure, it was of utmost importance that focus was stressed on trying to develop some degree of physical independency in order for him to be able to return to the community and his home.

Sipho was visited by the social worker on the same day he was admitted to the in-patient unit.  During their discussion, Sipho shared with the social worker that he came from a dysfunctional family and grew up without a father figure in his life, and although he had a grandfather, they did not develop a significant bond. Sipho left primary school and became involved in drug abuse, where he found himself turning to Tik as a means of coping. He mentioned that he had no hopes and dreams for the future, and lived a life with very little emotional and spiritual meaning. Ofcourse, living in a community where social evils were rife didn’t help Sipho. 

Sipho disclosed to staff that he had been diagnosed with HIV a few years ago, but did not see the need to be on ART, and generally did not care about his health.  Although he lived directly opposite the community health care centre, he never went for follow-ups and subsequently defaulted on his ART.  ART was re-initiated several times, and each time Sipho defaulted. 

It took some time for Sipho to settle in at the in-patient unit.  After several days he started to enjoy being there, and mentioned that he loved the calm, tranquil environment, and most of all, the food. 

The staff and social worker continued to build a relationship with Sipho, getting to know and understand him better each day he was in the unit.  With each day, he became more eager for support and guidance.

His mother was contacted and with support and encouragement from the social worker, also started to visit Sipho on a regular basis. This meant so much to Sipho, as his mother was the most significant person in his life, but he had not treated her well due to his drug abuse. She was able to forgive him for things he had done in the past, and they started to strengthen their bond as mother and son again.

It was amazing to see the improvement in Sipho’s physical, psychological and emotional condition with every day he spent in the unit. He had made a conscious decision that he wanted to change his lifestyle. It was as if he had been given a second chance at life, and he wanted to make the best of this gift of life.  Sipho requested assistance with his drug addiction, as he realised that he could not turn to drugs again, and that there were other ways to survive, both physically and emotionally. 

His spirit had been broken by the drugs, and he wanted his spirit back.  A referral was done for an outpatient drug rehabilitation programme, and was to be implemented as soon as Sipho was discharged from the Hospice in-patient unit. 

Sipho has now been home for the past seven months and is doing remarkably well.  He still enjoys regular visits from the Hospice team, and is actively involved in his drug rehabilitation programme. 

He is now free of TB and since restarting ART, has not missed one appointment at the community health care centre.  His CD4 count is gradually improving, and he functions well in society.  Best of all, Sipho has a lust for life.  Sipho has his spirit back!