Managing HIV and Life as a Teen

My name is Violet and I was born in 1995. I am 16 years old and I am the second born in a family of five children.

My father died in 2005, I was around 10 years old then and in class two at Joel Omino primary school. I am still at that the same school, but in class seven now. I’m optimistic that come next year I will be sitting for my Kenya Certificate of Primary Education and pass with flying colors.

After my father died, my mother and I started coming to the FACES program at Lumumba Health Centre in Kisumu for care and support. I didn’t know why I was taken to the clinic for care, but I remember that I used to be slightly sick and would miss school sometimes due to either suffering from malaria and other ailments.

What surprised me was that it became routine for me to go to the hospital almost every month. Also, it was only my mother and I who went to the hospital – none of my siblings needed to. I also got worried because I had to take drugs on a daily basis. I kept persistently asking my mother why I had to take these drugs and what they were for. My mother became desperate and in 2006, she told me that I was suffering from HIV/AIDS. My worries were confirmed and they were far beyond what I had imagined the problem to be. I thought I might have some serious disease, but HIV/AIDS? I asked more questions including where I got it, why me, what does the future holds for me.

My mother was very supportive and gave me hope. She reassured me and told me that we were in this together and that if we take drugs as prescribed then we have s many years ahead us.

In 2008, I was happy to be one of the few adolescents involved in the initiation of a FACES adolescent support group. We are able to learn a lot from one another by sharing our story and life experience. The support we gain from the FACES staff is also encouraging and participating in the therapeutic sessions with peers isvery useful. We learn how to live healthy and positively.

Currently I’m on highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), my regimen includes Lamivudine, Zidovudine and Nevirapine. Because I am in stable condition my clinic appointments are every three months. I would really love it if I could have clinic appointment just during school holidays so I don’t have to come in during school days. This would mean coming to the clinic three times a year instead of four.

My life has improved remarkably well; I do not suffer from illnesses like before. I am content with my condition and I am aware that I have to take my drugs as prescribed – even though it reminds me of the virus, I know the gains are more. Besides my mother and a few siblings, I have also disclosed my HIV status to one of my closest friend in school. She is very supportive and keeps the information confidential.

My performance in class has also been good, although not as good as when I was in lower primary school classes. I used to be in the top five and now I’m in the top 10 out of 250 students. I can do things as well others and even perform better in class than those that do not suffer for this condition.

* Note: All names have been changed

December 2011

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply