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AIDS Crisis in Africa: Living HIV-Positive

AIDS crisis in Africa My name is Azalea*. I live with my daughter. She is 10, in grade four and is second in her class. So, we are two people in the family. My husband passed away several years ago after a short disease. He was suffering from a liver problem.

We eat rice, millet pastry and beans. As we are only two, I cook once a day. After breakfast, I cook and we eat the meal at noon, and in the evening I reheat the leftovers and we eat.

We are living in an urban area. We have electricity and running water in the community, but only for those who can afford it. We also have a medical center in the neighborhood. Most people sell small items to feed their families.

I discovered my daughter was HIV-positive in 2005. She was suffering from severe chickenpox. The treating doctor suggested us to take an AIDS test. We agreed, and the child was declared HIV-positive.

I do not know how she got the disease, if it was during her birth or during the blood transfusion she got when she was very little.

My daughter does not yet know she is HIV-positive, but I will surely tell her. As I do not know how she will react, I am looking for the right moment to tell her.

I am also HIV-positive, but I do not know how and when I got infected. When the doctor discovered that my daughter was HIV-positive, he encouraged me to take the test and that was how I came to know.

I was very shocked when I found out. I was asking myself how I would live with the disease and how others would react.

Four years after being declared HIV-positive, I am still asking myself the same questions. And sometimes I even think of killing my daughter and committing suicide. I would not like to die and leave my daughter alone. Who will take care of her?

I have found no way out of this. In fact, it is because I do believe that God can make a way that I am still alive; otherwise I would have killed myself long ago.

People living with AIDS are not seen well. They are criticized and stigmatized. Whenever people know or even suspect you are HIV-positive they stop talking to you and won’t come to your house anymore.

My daughter and I are under antiretroviral drug therapy (ART) since 2005, just after the AIDS screening test.

My daughter takes lamivudine, aloe-vera and zidovudine. She takes one tablet of each drug in the morning and in the evening.

As for me, I take aloe-vera and zidovudine. I also take one tablet of each drug in the morning and in the evening.

So far we feel good and have not yet experienced any side effects. The doctor said that my daughter may start to vomit, or her eyes and hands may turn white, and he told me to bring her to him in this case. But so far everything is all right.

I would like God to give long life to my child. I am praying for God to make her succeed in life and be self-sufficient, and the Lord knows where to put her.

She has not yet told me about her dream, but she uses to say that when she grows up and gains a lot of money she will build a big house. I always tell her, “The Lord will give you long life and ability to achieve what you plan to do!”

After Azalea shared about her circumstances with me, she and her daughter took part in a sensitization campaign for caregiveres at the child development center.

People in Azalea’s community believe that they will be infected if they dare get close to HIV-positive people. Through these sensitization campaigns that Azalea’s church conducts from time to time, many people in the community have started to learn about the disease, and the stigma is decreasing.

When Azalea and her daughter returned home, the daughter asked so many questions that Azalea seized the opportunity to talk about their HIV-positive statuses.

The daughter asked many questions to understand more about HIV and AIDS. They talked positively, and there was no negativity. Praise God!

*Azalea is not the mother’s real name. Her name was changed for this blog post to protect her privacy.