“My life was perfect,” Sarah* reflects. “I grew up with my parents in a wealthy neighbourhood and lacked for nothing. I went to the finest schools and even attend college abroad.”
When Sarah returned home with a degree in statistics, she felt like everything was falling into place. “I met a man who swept me off my feet. He did everything right and I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him,” she recounted. Soon after the two were married and blessed with three children.
But slowly, things started going wrong. Her children were constantly sick and frequently in the hospital. They were treated for all sorts of infections but never seemed to get back on their feet completely. Her husband had also been in and out of the hospital. He had special doctors that looked after him that Sarah new nothing about.
“One day as I cleaned the bedroom, I found medicine in his drawer and became curious because we kept all our medicines in the bathroom cabinet. When I read the label I didn’t understand it, so I put it back and went about my day.”
“When I got to work that day, curiosity got the best of me. I went researched the drugs in the cabinet and discovered it was medication for people infected with HIV. My heart was pounding so fast. I couldn’t bear it. I couldn’t fathom the fact that my husband was HIV positive and never told me.”
“I called him immediately to ask if he was HIV positive. He said he wasn’t. He explained it away by saying the medication was given to him by his doctors as a trial drug for his medical condition.”
Unconvinced, Sarah went to her husband’s doctor and though he wasn’t at liberty to share his client’s information with her, she asked him to have a conversation with her husband. “It was then that I began to ask myself the tough questions – what if he is positive? My children, my health, what would become of us and our marriage?” She thought.
When she took her children to get tested, the results returned her greatest fears confirmed. She and all her little ones were infected. “I broke down in tears, I wanted to die. I even begged the doctor to check again and be sure.”
“With little strength, I called my parents and asked them to pick me up from the hospital. When we reached home, while my parents packed the children’s bags, I went to speak to my husband. He still denied to my face until I showed him our results, then he started to cry and said he did everything right to make sure the children and I never contracted the disease. I asked him if he knew he was positive before we got married, to which he said ‘yes,’” Sarah recalls with tears in her eyes.
After 13 years of marriage, Sarah left her husband and moved to her parents’ home with her children. It was from there that she was introduced to Alive Medical Services (AMS). “My children and I were received with so much care, they looked at us not as victims but as a family. My children have an amazing time when we come to receive our medication and to check our viral load, they never want to leave,” Sarah says.
“Over time I have learnt to live with this new reality and am now back on my feet. I am grateful to AMS for the love and care they have shown to me and my children. If it wasn’t for AMS, I know not what would have become of us.”
Sarah is now an advocate for women who are HIV positive and encourages others to get tested – even if they’re married.
Thank you for keeping Alive Medical Services and our clients in your hearts.
*Name and images in this story have been changed to protect the client’s identity.