Mpilo* is nine, but he looks six years old. He had been ill for months, says his mother—suffering from fever, lack of appetite and a persistent cough. When she took his older sister to a local health clinic to treat a wound on her leg, the doctors discovered the little girl was HIV-positive. At the clinic, the staff immediately asked the entire family to come in for testing as part of a CDC-led effort to improve detection of hidden HIV cases—an innovative approach known as index testing.
That’s when they discovered Mpilo* was HIV-positive. What’s more, he had also contracted TB—a potentially deadly combination. He was started immediately on HIV anti-retrovirals, and a few weeks later, began TB treatment as well. After several weeks of daily pills, he is a happy little boy, says his mother, with a heart-melting smile and an irresistible laugh. He capers around the backyard and rides his bike up and down the nearby hillside. His mother sticks both thumbs up at his transformation. "He was so ill, he wouldn't play, but now look at him.”