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 Health  Uganda Project #30684

Stop the Cycle of HIV: Support Women and Children!

by Alive Medical Services
Stop the Cycle of HIV: Support Women and Children!
Stop the Cycle of HIV: Support Women and Children!
Stop the Cycle of HIV: Support Women and Children!
Stop the Cycle of HIV: Support Women and Children!
Stop the Cycle of HIV: Support Women and Children!
Stop the Cycle of HIV: Support Women and Children!
Stop the Cycle of HIV: Support Women and Children!
Stop the Cycle of HIV: Support Women and Children!
Sara and her two lovely children.
Sara and her two lovely 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 has a mental disability and is 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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Carol at the Victor's club.
Carol at the Victor's club.

In primary 5, young as she was, Carol (not real name) a 26-year-old young lady currently residing in Namasuba was taken to the hospital by her aunt as she noticed she was getting sickly after 5 years since the death of her mother. Carol was taken to a clinic in Naguru where she was diagnosed with HIV after a blood test. She was still very young and vulnerable, devasted and hopeless with life. She was started on medication but by that time it was on sale and seemed expensive. Lucky enough, she had sponsors that catered and gave her a helping hand. As time passed, this cost became too high for them to handle so they started looking for an alternative way to support her.

In 2011, one of her sponsors found out about Alive Medical Services and she was transferred there. Not only was AMS offering ARVs, but all services were free of charge including monthly nutrition food provisions that took a load off from the burden of the sponsors. They however, continued to provide her school tuition and upkeep.

“Alive Medical Services was and is still one of a kind, a home away from home I must say. I thought I was the only one but when I met the young people in the Victor’s club, and most of all one of the leaders Nabula Edith Lukoma, I swear my life has never been the same!”

With the support and encouragement from Victor’s club here at AMS, Carol managed to cope, especially with the irritating side effects from the medication like heat all over her body, endless nausea. She persisted to stay on the medication as advised by the health workers and it has paid off. She was trained as a peer educator in psychosocial support, music trainer here at AMS and ever since then, she is proud of sharing her story with the community

Carol is now a mother of two lovely children, a boy and a girl and through our AMS EMTCT services, they are healthy, happy and most of all HIV negative.

She has learnt so much from the facility and touched so many lives in the process.                                                     

“I am so grateful to AMS staff and donors that make this happen, I love my life, my kids and my medication. Sometimes it gets hard, but that’s the circle of life, I believe everyone goes through depressing and stressing times irrespective of their status.”

Since then, Carol has never looked back and is currently breaking boundaries, she is travelling to Nairobi for her new job. She has a plan to travel back every three months to refill her medication.

It’s because of generous partners like you that AMS can help the youth. Your support is critical to ensuring children are born HIV-negative – and you are playing an integral role in halting the spread of HIV, and keeping families safe. For that, we are incredibly grateful. Thank you so very much!

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Mary with her healthy and HIV-negative Lillian
Mary with her healthy and HIV-negative Lillian

In 2013, Mary came to Alive Medical Services for a check-up. She had a fever and was hoping to see a doctor, receive some medicine, and head back home. Mary thought she only had a passing illness, but just to be safe, she decided to be tested for a number of things anyway.

When the doctor returned with Mary’s results, he told her something she would never have imagined: Mary, though married for years to the same person, was HIV positive.

“I was in such a bad state,” Mary said. “I just came into the clinic to get checked for a fever, and then I found out I had HIV.”

Terrified her husband would blame her for the illness, she didn’t say a thing until he developed a rash on his arms. Mary insisted he get tested for HIV, and when her husband came home with a positive diagnosis, he told her the truth. He had not been completely faithful in their marriage.

At that point, Mary found out she was pregnant with their third child, the first to be conceived after Mary realized her positive diagnosis. She hurried to AMS as soon as she found out she was expecting.

“The doctors helped me maintain good adherence throughout the pregnancy, following up with me as the months went by,” Mary said.

Within months, Mary’s husband left her for someone else. Regardless of his repeated deceit, Mary stayed strong. She kept up with her medication, came to the clinic for frequent check-ups, and focused on delivering a healthy, HIV negative baby.

After nine months of pre-natal care at AMS, and a year-and-a-half of check-ups post-birth, AMS doctors confirmed Mary’s daughter – Lillian – was HIV negative.

Today, Lillian is nearly 2 years old. Mary is in good health, and continues to come to AMS for her antiretroviral medication and regular check-ups. In addition, her family receives treatment of other infections – opportunistic or otherwise – free of charge.

“At first, I was so worried about having HIV,” Mary said. “But today, I’m okay. I’ve accepted it. And I’m well aware that if I take my medication well, I’ll continue to live.”

Through your support, more babies like Lillian can be born and raised HIV-free. We are striving to create an HIV/AIDS-free generation and the future looks bright with your helping hand. We speak for countless adolescent girls, young women, mothers and children when we say, thank you!

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Little Lucy during a scheduled appointment at AMS
Little Lucy during a scheduled appointment at AMS

My name is Juliet and I am a 33-year-old mother of 4. My husband, children and I live in Luzira and three of us have been clients of Alive Medical Services (AMS) since 2011. I have been aware of my HIV-status since 2003 and had been getting my medication elsewhere although the supply was always unpredictable, so I did not have proper adherence. The reason I came to AMS was because of my third child, 5-year-old Lucia who at the time was only 3 months old. She had been terribly sick for about a month and we had run out of options.

Actually, we had emotionally prepared ourselves for her death. At the time, we lived in Namuwongo but did not know that we were very close to where our hope would be renewed, at AMS. An elderly woman who was our close neighbour realized our distress and directed us to the clinic. I immediately got the first boda-boda (motorbike) with my daughter to AMS.

On reaching the clinic, we were given priority and at that moment, I regained hope in saving my daughter’s life. After the emergency medical care had been given and realizing that she too was HIV-positive, the doctors got us a car and a reference letter in hand to Mulago hospital. We first despaired because we could not afford the private medical care but AMS’ Director Dr Pasquine not only gave me a reference letter; she made some calls to ease our way in getting the medical care that was beyond AMS. This I only discovered later as indeed we were given good medical attention while at Mulago hospital.

My daughter was on oxygen support for about 2 weeks and during this time we got care supplies from Mwama Mugimu, a wellness company that was partnering with AMS at the time. A team of doctors made sure that the oxygen tank did not run dry at any moment and my husband and I kept watch over her while taking turns.

Today, I look at Lucia, my 5-year-old daughter and I acknowledge that she is a miracle that Alive Medical Services helped to happen. I would have been grieving my child but, instead, I gladly share my happiness with others. My husband, daughter and I come regularly for medical care since the rest of our children are HIV-negative. I am forever grateful to AMS for all the love and care towards my family, especially my baby girl Lucia.

Through the maternal and child health services like antenatal care and elimination of mother-to-child services offered at Alive Medical Services, Juliet has been able to have another baby that is HIV-negative. It with immense gratitude that we share such stories of hope that are only made possible by donors like you. And with your continued support, we can ensure that the little ones like Lucy are born HIV-free.

We speak for countless women and children whose lives you impact when we say thank you!

Juliet, Lucy's mother and her baby brother
Juliet, Lucy's mother and her baby brother
Sister Florence, a nurse at AMS, hugs little Lucy
Sister Florence, a nurse at AMS, hugs little Lucy
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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

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Organization Information

Alive Medical Services

Location: Kampala - Uganda
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @AMSUganda
Project Leader:
Pasquine Ogunsanya
Founder and Executive Director
Kampala, Uganda
$60,497 raised of $85,000 goal
 
200 donations
$24,503 to go
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