May 28, 2019

Lifesaving care and treatment for a positive life

AMS outreach for the most-at-risk populations
AMS outreach for the most-at-risk populations

“My name is Norrine, I am 46years old. I came to Alive Medical services in 2008 after having fallen sick for about six months, feeling extremely weak and the sudden death of the father of my three children who had died due to an AIDS-related illness. We were not together anymore but I had my suspicions before his death which were just confirmed with my health continuously deteriorating thereafter.

 

When I came to AMS, I was counselled in preparation for the HIV test. The hardest part was the counselling session after the results where returned. I remember zoning out and seeing my life flash before me. I started thinking about my death and having to leave my kids orphaned, alone without an education, anyone to take them in or even feed them. I got the news and went home to my misery and didn’t even bother to eat for two days because of the worry on my mind.

It took me a while to accept my HIV status, I was in denial and the times I would try to accept it, I would end up wishing for my own death instead. But one thing that I am grateful for during that trying time is AMS because they never gave up on. The counsellor who had talked to me earlier called after a few weeks to follow up on whether I was taking my antiretroviral medication and to know how I was generally getting along. That alone gave me hope to open up more about the depression I was experiencing, and she invited me for a one-on-one session. I remember uncontrollably pouring my heart out and after that, I felt a little closer to accepting my status, how I know that is because I started to take my medication.

 

Three months after religiously taking my ARVs, I was feeling better, energized and even looked healthier. Back then, I was provided with food for myself and my children until I was strong enough to get back to work as a Police Officer. I am now able to work without falling suddenly ill or feeling stressed out. I am not in denial anymore even though I haven’t managed to share my status with other people. Although, I have disclosed to my children and I continue to provide them with health education on sexual reproductive health and HIV. I wouldn’t want them to live in a bubble and yet I know this life-changing information as given to me by AMS.

To people out there especially mothers and fathers, protect your partner by being faithful to them. Additionally, endeavor to get tested for HIV to know your stand. For those that test HIV positive, it is not a death sentence and the sooner you come to terms with it, the better you can take care of yourself to live a long and happy life.”

*Disclaimer – in order to protect the identity of the client, names and images in this report have been changed

Taking HIV care & treatment services closer
Taking HIV care & treatment services closer
Apr 29, 2019

Building an HIV-free Generation

A laboratory technologist draws  blood
A laboratory technologist draws blood

Building an HIV-free Generation – How the EMTCT Programme transformed a mother’s life

Clare, a resident of Kyebando learnt of Alive Medical Services (AMS) through her mother who is also a recipient of care at AMS. This was five years ago. She was first made aware of her HIV status when she was in primary school. Clare was born with HIV and she rejected treatment for some time because of fear of stigma and the routine of taking medicine.

“For the time I spent off medicine, I resorted to self-medication where I would buy sceptrin from drug shops and take, thinking that this would help me somehow.” She remembers falling sick one day and that’s when her older sister and her mother insisted on bringing her to AMS where she has been getting her treatment since then. “I had also acquired TB at the time and therefore was started on double treatment when I was enrolled into care here.”

Clare is now a mother of three through the elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (EMTCT) program and all her babies are free from HIV. ‘I came here and explained to the health workers that I was pregnant. They fully supported me and started me on treatment to keep my baby from getting the virus.” She says that the treatment has helped her family especially her HIV negative partner from acquiring the virus.

Though she admits that it is difficult to reveal her status to her partner, Clare agrees to the fact that it is important for her partner to know her status. ‘He does not know that I am getting treatment from here. I am sure he is HIV negative because he has tested for HIV several times and I am also virally suppressed. In addition, I am afraid that when he learns about my status, I might lose my family forever.” Clare recalls losing her first family because of that and that’s why she wants to take her time before telling her husband about her status. In the meantime, the AMS counsellors are going through sessions with her to disclose to her partner in the most convenient and delicate way with their active involvement in the process.

Clare’s family is healthy and faring well in terms of raising her children. “My first born is in school and I will soon be enrolling the second one in school as well who is three years old now. I am ready and want to live for my boys. I want to give them an education and a quality life.” “I might give birth to another baby after these ones have been enrolled in school,” Clare adds.

The 32-year-old shop attendant reveals that she was always off work because of sickness. “It was after I resumed treatment that I thought of conceiving because I felt better and strong. This did not take away the fears of giving birth to an HIV positive baby. But when I spoke to musawo (Health worker) and she said I could have a child free from HIV, my hope was restored.”

Clare is happily attending to her business of running electronics shop near the old taxi park in Kampala. ‘I want to work for my family and ensure that my sons and husband remain HIV negative.”

Clare continuously hails the care, support and hope she received through the EMTCT program, “My greatest joy is that my sons are alive and HIV free. I don’t know how to express my gratitude for that; Thank you AMS. I cannot even imagine skipping my treatment because I now have what to live for; my sons.”

 

All HIV-positive pregnant women given ANC services
All HIV-positive pregnant women given ANC services

Links:

Apr 24, 2019

Antiretroviral treatment renews a mother's hope

A happy Brenda during one of her visits for ART
A happy Brenda during one of her visits for ART

Brenda Joan Nasaazi is a young mother living with HIV in Namuwongo. She has a two-year-old son who is HIV negative as a result of Alive Medical Services’ elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV programme. Brenda started her journey of treatment while in junior school (primary three level) after the death of her mother. “When my mother died, my aunt brought me to Alive Medical Services (AMS) for testing because it was presumed that she had died as a result of HIV.”

“Even though I tested HIV positive, I did not understand what it all meant at the time. Auntie helped me to start on my treatment and adjust my lifestyle accordingly. She made sure that I got treatment from here without fail even though we were staying in Luweero.” – Luweero town is approximately 62 kilometres from Kampala.

Brenda recalls having been able to go to school, “I studied up to senior two. In my primary school, only my head teacher knew about my health status. My friends did not get to know, and I was somehow shielded from stigma.”

Brenda dropped out of school while in at the second level of high school having conceived a child. She decided to keep the pregnancy and sought medical attention like before. “I was not so scared. I came here and sought counselling from here and I was able to give birth to an HIV negative baby.”

23-year-old Brenda has not had any troubles getting her treatment and she credits AMS for having been so supportive as far as her well being is concerned. “Whenever I come here to get medicine, the health workers are also interested in my general well being and I get to share other personal problems with them. This reduces my stress and worries.”

Brenda is one of the young stigma free clients who is not afraid of sharing her story and experience with others. “I want to be confident always and to encourage all young people that they can still live a good life even after testing HIV positive.” The young mother has many dreams among which is to live for her son and work hard for him to live a good life, “I am working in a boutique right now, but I hope to work harder to sustain myself and my son’s needs.” Brenda separated with her son’s father, but she had already made him aware of her status before having the baby. “He was HIV negative and I was positive, but he said he did not mind my status. We separated because of some other issues.”

Smiling Brenda repeatedly speaks of her strong relationship with AMS, “I am so free with everyone here. I am happy with the services I receive from here. There is a very big difference between the life I live now and the one I used to live back in the village in Luweero.” Brenda is now staying in Namuwongo where she is closer, and it is easier for her to get treatment. We appreciate all our donors for contributing and supporting the wonderful call to build an empowered young generation, especially but not limited to adolescent girls and young women living with HIV and creating an HIV-free generation.

 
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