Transform the Lives of 13000 HIV-Positive Ugandans

by Alive Medical Services
Transform the Lives of 13000 HIV-Positive Ugandans
Transform the Lives of 13000 HIV-Positive Ugandans
Transform the Lives of 13000 HIV-Positive Ugandans
Transform the Lives of 13000 HIV-Positive Ugandans
Transform the Lives of 13000 HIV-Positive Ugandans
Transform the Lives of 13000 HIV-Positive Ugandans
Transform the Lives of 13000 HIV-Positive Ugandans
Transform the Lives of 13000 HIV-Positive Ugandans

James (not real name), the last of 10 children, lost his dad at the age of 3 to an HIV related illness. His mother later died in 2009 when she was shortly diagnosed with HIV. At the age of 10, while James was in school, the headteacher knew about his family, and since he was one of the best performing students yet struggling with tuition, he was registered under an organization Compassion International. Compassion International is a Christian humanitarian aid child sponsorship organization dedicated to the long-term development of children living in poverty around the world. The registration procedure was a success, but the organization needed to know every child’s HIV status in registration before they began school. James was confirmed as HIV positive.

James, however, was not disclosed to immediately, he was just started on medication. While living with his sister, he was persistent in taking the medication but kept asking why the medication dose was not getting finished. Due to the endless questions, his sister referred him to one of her counsellor friends living with HIV. The disclosure process was a total success. During the counselling session, He also made a friend but, unfortunately, he passed on in 2014, leaving him in this lonely world alone.

He then withdrew himself in self-stigma because he thought he was the only one taking medication which led to adherence struggles causing consistent illnesses. This forced them to seek medical attention at a nearby clinic, Alive Medical Services. When James came to AMS, he was attended to by one of AMS’ health workers Martin who was disclosed to by the sister about the situation and he advised them to transfer into AMS care as he told them about the comprehensive services offered at AMS.

“Musawo Martin told us about the services offered here at AMS, especially HIV services which I needed most, so we decided to transfer in all the way from Jinja, my hometown.”

He then joined AMS where he was introduced to the famous Victor’s Club for PLHIV which helped him restore his dreams and he got to make new friends who were just like him. He is forever grateful to the AMS staff who have held his hand from the time he joined the facility.

He is now a peer educator at AMS where this has been given the opportunity to share his story with the young people and help his fellow youth live a positive-positive life which relieves him from self-stigma and aspires to become a Psychologist where he hungers to help nurture young people in society irrespective of their HIV status.


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“I was told a story that my dad died when I was two years old, perhaps that was 1997 because I was born in 1995,” says Malaika (not real name), a 25-year-old young lady who was diagnosed with HIV at the age of 12 in 2007 after a series of consistent illnesses and persistent cough.

Malaika was never told what caused her father's death; all she knew was that he was ill for some time as the story shared with her. The situation got worse, that's when her aunt suspected that she might have been infected by her parents since her father had already passed on. Her aunt decided to have a talk with her. She finally told her that her father died of HIV/AIDs and that she might need to get checked to rule out all possibilities. The young girl accepted because she was raised never to be vulnerable.

“I was taken to a random HIV clinic where the services were not good, however, after being told to come back three times and nothing was done or confirmed, a lady (good Samaritan) who was planning to transfer from the clinic referred us to Alive Medical Services,” Malaika said. The very next day first thing in the morning, Malaika and her aunt headed to Alive Medical Services (AMS). Everything was perfect from the services to the customer care, so she kept on praying for her results to be negative because she had learned about HIV from school.  Unfortunately, her results were positive, and she felt like the Lord hadn’t heard her prayers.

After a series of counselling sessions, Malaika felt like she had her life together. She was in a candidate class, and she didn’t want to waste her life on something she couldn’t change, so she decided to take on her father’s name even though she never met the man but rather honour him in every way possible by giving him a legacy. “I hope I name one of my children Lukoma.” She shared.

In 2009, Malaika came up with an idea of a club, while sharing with Dr Elizabeth the importance of engaging with fellow peers about what they go through and the different challenges they face as Young People Living with HIV/AIDs. She expressed the benefits of peer to peer counselling and therapy, which led to the famous Victor’s Club to be born.

Like any Young Person Living with HIV/AIDs, Malaika has had her fair share of ups and downs, on occasion she didn’t think she would live this long, now 25 years old! She has never felt more grateful like she does today. Most of all, she is grateful to the AMS family that took her in and never looked back. They nurtured her from a tender age and welcomed her talents, encouraging her to grow into the brilliant young lady she is now. “I know all this might have happened for a reason, but God knew me before I was born,” she says.

Malaika is now a graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Development Studies, and she looks forward to furthering her education. She dreams of being a wife, mother. Like any young lady, she already has names for her children as she prays for them. Malaika is already a testimony among YPLHIV, currently working with the Communications department at AMS, the sky is only the limit for her.

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Sara and her children
Sara and her children

Sara (not real name), a 28-year-old single mother of two boys, works as a housemaid for an Indian family and resides in Kanyogoga, a slum area in Namuwongo. Sara joined Alive Medical Services in 2010 after a series of what seemed like signs of HIV. She had a skin rash, an irritating cough and she was consistently losing weight, these were all signs of HIV according to what people said. She used to escort her friend who was already in care at Alive Medical Services for drug refills. Her friend kept on encouraging her to test as she showed some of the signs of HIV. Sara was at first afraid to take that step of knowing her HIV status as she was a breastfeeding mother of a 17-months-old baby. She courageously took the test and the result was positive as she had suspected. 

“I was at first traumatised about the news; I was even afraid to tell the counsellor that I had a breastfeeding child at home ("Naka were") and when I told my husband, he left me with the child,” Sara said sadly.

Sara did not disclose to the health worker that she had a baby before she confirmed her status. As her child grew up, he repeatedly fell ill and then developed a skin rash at 5 years; not to mention the child is dumb and deaf. “I felt like he already had so much to deal with, but I had no choice”.  She then decided to bring him for medical attention where they suggested for an HIV test. Sadly, the result turned out positive.

Sara felt hopeless because she did not have any psychosocial support and her friend had died. She got the courage to disclose to her mother after five years as she could no longer handle the situation by herself. Fortunately, her mother was supportive, compassionate and she has never been judgemental towards her daughter.

From the day Sara found out her HIV status, she has gotten the best counselling and health tips especially on the importance of having a balanced diet. Sara regained hope, self-love through all the support offered at Alive Medical Services, from food to medication and she is more stable now and managed to get a job where she earns fair pay which she didn’t expect once her life had taken a turn. “Even if my child barely speaks or hears, he usually looks at the clock and when it clicks 8:00 pm, he taps me as a reminder and gives me the sign that it’s time for medication, the only challenge will be disclosing to him in such a situation when he gets older”.

Sara restored her life back and had a second baby who was under the guidance of the health workers in the EMTCT section at the clinic. Her second child is happy, healthy and HIV-negative.

For all these years she has spent on medication, Sara would love to thank the whole staff of Alive Medical Services especially the lady in the EMTCT section (Linda) who has been very supportive; “she tells the truth of what will happen if you do it the way you are told to do and she will show and help you how to do it the right way”.

Mwebale nyo, mwebalilire ddala.

(Thank you so much)

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Santa getting her baby immunized
Santa getting her baby immunized

In 2012, after a long time of being bedridden and weight loss, Santa (not real name) was referred by a friend to Alive Medical Services(AMS) to get tested for HIV. She decided to come to the clinic just to impress her friend, as she knew her friend was already in care (enrolled on ART) and wasn’t worried about anything concerning HIV, Santa thought she was HIV negative. To her surprise, she tested HIV positive and it was a devastating situation because she had just tested in the previous 6 months and she was confirmed HIV negative.

“A lot of questions were in my mind because by that time I had one child and I was expecting another, so I was wondering who I will leave my children with when I die? How am I going to tell my husband about everything?” She thought discordancy was impossible.

Since she was expecting, she was immediately enrolled in care and started taking antenatal appointments as she was explained to that she could actually have a safe baby if she followed the doctor’s instructions. The situation was tough for her as so many thoughts of taking daily medication on time while you are pregnant, but Santa stood strong while she thought about the life of her children by then and this encouraged her to hold on to that. “After all God knows when I’ll die” She smiled.

In a long time of a discordance relationship, Santa’s spouse goes ahead and shares with one of their family friends how they are living as discordant. She eventually took him away from her. Santa got another phase of stress that almost took her down while she was pregnant again with her third child. She then met Nurse Edith, a nurse at Alive Medical Services in charge of antenatal care during her antenatal appointment. “Nurse Edith got concerned about how a pregnant woman looked weightless and stressed, so I was forced to share the situation. Nurse Edith gave me the best advice any married woman would have loved to hear.” Her advice made her strong that she came to realize she is a normal human being and different scenarios happen to people irrespective of their status.

Today Santa is a mother of 3 children who are HIV negative of whom the third is 4 months and is currently enrolled in the EID/EMTCT section and the first PCR results are negative and she says if she didn’t meet the caring, loving and concerned AMS staff that treats clients very well, maybe she wouldn’t be around today.

Santa thanks to the whole AMS team for not despising any clients, they don’t bark at them and the facility is always clean. “Most of us having nothing much to offer and give in return, tell the team and everyone who plays a role in making a change in our community that we are grateful and thank you a lot.”

Santa engaging a health worker
Santa engaging a health worker
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Immaculate with her HIV-negative baby
Immaculate with her HIV-negative baby

My name is Immaculate, I am 24 years old and a mother of one. I am a resident of Namuwongo, and I have lived here for the past three years. My journey to staying in a slum area has been riddled with a lot of hardships. At 20 years of age, I had a child with my partner then, and I felt happy and fulfilled, little did I know that this was temporary. By then, I lived with my partner in Kanungu (about 430 kilometres from the capital, Kampala) and we led very simple lives. Shortly after my first son was born, he began to terribly fall ill from time to time. I became terrified at this point and honestly, I had run out of options. To make matters worse, our finances had really become undependable, we lived on less than a dollar a day.

One day, my partner suggested that we move to the city where opportunities seemed better than our current situation. Contrary to our anticipation, life was even harder than it was back in the village – at least we had food from the garden back home. In the city, we occasionally went to bed with empty bellies. And all this while, our son’s health was just getting worse.

Within the Namuwongo area, I heard about the “Know-Your-Child’s-Status” campaign from a community health worker who was carrying out health education and follow-up in the community. I was curious and desperate so when she advised me to take my child to Alive Medical Services (AMS), I did not hesitate. Upon my arrival and following tests carried out, my son was confirmed HIV positive. This was impossible! I insisted on the health workers running another test and that is when a counsellor urged me to get tested as well. I must admit, I was mortified! I couldn’t imagine or handle the result, so I hesitated and did not take the test that day – I walked back home.

I was in denial about my son’s status so I did not discuss it with my husband in the hope that the health workers were wrong and that another test would prove them otherwise. A few days after my visit to AMS, I received a follow-up call and a counsellor requested me to come back in at least to talk to someone. I gathered courage and did just as she suggested. This time around, after a considerate amount of time with the counsellor, I decided to get tested as well. When the result turned out to be positive, I lost my mind! The world came crashing down on me. On disclosing to my husband, he decided to leave me alone with our son. Sadly, my son succumbed to measles shortly after that and died.

This pushed me into a depression – I wanted to commit suicide, I wanted to end it all. But through all this, AMS never gave up on me. Not only did they keep calling me to ensure that I came to the clinic for treatment, but they also made sure to physically check on me in the community. Subsequently, I started adhering to my treatment, got some domestic work to do, and later found a partner. I applied the advice from the counsellors regarding disclosure. When I thought it appropriate, I disclosed my status to him, and he was supportive and to ensure that his negative status was maintained.

One year down the road, I conceived twins! I made sure I attended all the recommended antenatal care visits and in May 2019, I gave birth but sadly lost one of the twins during childbirth. This pushed away my partner who decided to leave. I was about to fall back into the same patterns but due to the constant support especially psychosocial support from the counsellors, I was able to accept my situation and concentrate on living for my son and myself.

Today, I am one of the peer mothers that help in providing peer-to-peer support to newly diagnosed HIV positive pregnant women. I share with them my story in case it can help them see past their current situation, adhere to their treatment and take care of their babies when they are born. I still have a long way to go, but for this far that I have come, I am victorious! I am thankful to the partners and donors of AMS that send help to support people like me. I am forever grateful, and I will always try to pay this kindness forward.

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Organization Information

Alive Medical Services

Location: Kampala - Uganda
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @AMSUganda
Project Leader:
Pasquine Ogunsanya
Founder and Executive Director
Kampala, Uganda
$84,028 raised of $90,000 goal
301 donations
$5,972 to go
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