Courage and Hope

I am Mary. I got to know about my HIV status at a PMTCT clinic five years ago. I could not believe it. I engaged the nurse in a long argument. I knew I would die immediately after testing positive. I was told about the Patient Support Centre HIV clinic but due to stigma, I did not access care until I got Tuberculosis (TB).

One day a neighbor of ours talked to me about how she got help. I went for the idea and immediately started TB treatment. During this time I gave birth to my 5th born baby and six months later we enrolled in HIV care. Unfortunately my infant son was also HIV positive. These events made me disclose my status to my husband. He took the testing idea positively and was enrolled for HIV treatment a few weeks later; he is also HIV positive. Now the three of us are living positively.

Our son is on the antiretrovirals drugs and is doing well. Our CD4 count has been increasing steadily ever since and is now over 1000, yet we are on cotrimoxazole and multivitamins. My husband made a living pushing a water hand cart and this was our means of survival. This worried me so much as he was HIV positive and needed rest. He started volunteering with a Couples Intervention Study (CIS) as a community mobilizer and joined the Patient Advisory and Patient Support Group at FACES. One thing that helped us is that we did not blame one another. Fortunately I was called by the FACES Program to give HIV/AIDS health talks to women at the PMTCT clinic as a Peer Educator. I prayed so hard to get the confidence and the wisdom to do this, especially since I never completed secondary school. The percentage of pregnant mothers accessing HIV testing services increased tremendously. I later landed a job at FACES as Clinic and Community Health Assistant. I was so excited to join the happy family as staff.

July 2007

Note: All names have been changed

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