“I did not know I could breastfeed my boys exclusively and still have them HIV Negative! ‘’ exclaimed Carol, with a green.
27-year-old HIV positive Carol has been coming to Alive Medical Services since 2018 to receive her ART treatments. Not remembering how, where and when she was infected, the 2 months pregnant Carol wanted to know her HIV status before enrolling in for Ante Natal Care. She tested from a local clinic that was commonly known to be owned by a white man, “mzungu”.
“I chose the mzungu’s clinic because it was quite private compared to other clinics around and as an expectant mother, I wanted to know my status before enrolling in antenatal care.”
When Carol was tested, her results were confirmed HIV positive. In so much denial, confusion and disbelief, Carol headed back to her house in thoughts of having an abortion due to the worry of infecting her unborn child. She thought it was the best thing to do. She remembers crying herself to sleep because she was devastated by the sad news that was going to change her life forever.
“The next morning, I was surprised that the mzungu came to check how I was doing, he gave me a few words of wisdom and educated me about HIV in which he assured me that I can continue living life to the fullest and have a safe baby while I take my medications. It took me sometime to believe him. He then referred me to Alive Medical Services as it is known for HIV care and treatment. He even supported me and gave me transport to come here.” Carol enlightens.
When Carol came to Alive Medical Services, she was tested again as the usual procedure, which still confirmed the same result. “I kept on praying for the results to change.”
“I was handled very well, right from the counselling point to the doctor in the clinical room. It felt like these people had known me before or they were expecting me.”
At first Carol was challenged with getting used to the daily dosage of twice a day which led to poor adherence and its related side effects of non-suppression. This led to intensive adherence counselling sessions so that she could get on track and save her unborn child too. During these sessions, Carol had a chance of meeting some of the peer mothers around the clinic who shared their success stories with her. She was moved by how some of them even started Anti-retroviral treatment at a tender age. This made Carol accept and understand who she was, and she was convinced that she can live up to her dreams and desires despite her status. Carol had a bouncing healthy baby boy.
“I always like it when I come to the clinic because everyone is concerned about how your life is, where you sleep, what you are eating, they generally will ask how you are, putting HIV aside. Their concerns keep me wanting to take my medicines every day because I know someone, Alive Medical Services cares about me, my life and my family. In fact, the psychosocial therapy starts right from the gates of Alive Medical Services.”
Carol has been receiving anti-retro-viral treatment here at Alive Medical Services for the past 3 years now to fight the virus. Her tests like viral load and CD4 suggest that she is taking her medication well and that the virus is well under control.
“I have been taking the drugs to make me better ever since. I must take tablets every day to make sure I do not get sick. I do not feel sick at all, not even a headache. I can do all the things my friends do, like go to the market and do business.” Carol’s expresses.
“No one around me knows about my illness. I don’t think I’d even love to let them know because I never talk about it. I like all the health workers at the hospital. Apart from ART, they give me emotional, spiritual and psychosocial medicine to make my life better,” Carol says.
“I learned that it’s possible to be HIV-positive and have HIV-negative children,” says Carol, “which might not have been possible had I not joined Alive Medical Services or if I hadn’t decided to test earlier while I was pregnant.”
Despite her HIV status, Carol breastfed all her two sons for the first six months and during this period, she ensured that she adhered to the mother and child antiretroviral therapy interventions recommended by the health workers at the hospital.
As a young lady living with HIV, the mother of two healthy and happy children has had the odds stacked against her. But today, thanks to the generosity of donors like you, she is receiving the health, nutritional and emotional support she needs to thrive and pursue her dreams.Attachments: