Human immunodeficiency virus transmission from a 24-year-old
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Since its debut recognition in 1981, human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome has affected over 77 million people and has resulted in premature cessation of 35.4 million lives worldwide. Commonly, human immunodeficiency virus is transmitted by sexual contact across mucosal surfaces, by sharing of injecting equipment, through contaminated blood transfusions, and by maternal–infant exposure. Nevertheless, accidental transmission incidences involving family members are rare but possible.

A 78-year-old woman of African descent from Mtwara Region south of Tanzania was referred to us for further evaluation and treatment. She is 30 years postmenopausal and has a 35-year history of hypertension. Her last attendance to our institute was 11 months prior the index visit and she tested negative for human immunodeficiency virus. She came with complaints of weight loss, recurrent fevers, and cough.

Her hematological tests revealed leukopenia with lymphocytosis, together with a normocytic normochromic anemia. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay for human immunodeficiency virus was positive, and she had a CD4 count of 177 cells/µL. She went back to history taking to identify the potential source of infection. She was informed that for the past 6 months, the 78-year-old lady has been living with her unwell 24-year-old granddaughter who has been divorced.

The granddaughter had a history of recurrent fevers, significant weight loss, and a suppurative skin condition. As a way to show love and care, the old lady was puncturing the suppurative lesions with bare hands; then she would suck them to clear away the discharge. She was requested to see the young lady, and she tested positive for human immunodeficiency virus. Both were started on tenofovir/lamivudine/dolutegravir combination plus cotrimoxazole 960 mg. The family was in total disarray following these findings. The patient was discharged through infectious diseases department and died of Pneumocystis jirovecii pneumonia 12 weeks later.

Certain sociocultural norms that are believed to express love, care, and togetherness in developing rural communities, particularly Sub-Saharan Africa, have a potential of spreading human immunodeficiency virus, thus warranting prompt transformation.