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The Birthing of hope in Taraba State: An inspiring story of one life that brought back hope to so many other lives

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November 2011 – Eleven years ago, Abraham Johnson, a young single man had lost all hope of ever rising from what seemed like his death bed. Abraham was first diagnosed HIV positive in 1998 but kept silent on his status until the year 2000. At this time, he had become seriously ill and was admitted into the then General Hospital, Jalingo. In 2002, he met the State team of Family Health International implementing the then IMPACT project. The team encouraged him to stop living in denial and embrace life by taking advantage of positive living strategies available through support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). This marked the turning point of his life. He was able to disclose his HIV status in 2002, thereby becoming the first person in Taraba State to openly disclose his status. With this, he felt a deep sense of relief and in his own words “I felt free as if a burden was lifted from me and subsequently I could enter anywhere without the consciousness of stigma upon me”

Abraham’s decision to live positively led him to participate in several HIV/AIDS activities available at the time. He was exposed to the advantages of disclosure and positive living. The experience he gained sparked his passion to help other PLWHA in the state. He came up with the idea to set up support groups for PLWHA in Taraba State where they can live in hope and speak with one voice on issues that concern their general wellbeing. In 2003, the support group was formed with technical assistance from the FHI IMPACT project. The support group grew day-by-day with more PLWHAs disclosing their status and joining the league of persons living positively with HIV/AIDS. By 2005 when FHI started the GHAIN project in Taraba State, the support group evolved with the name “Society for Future Health” and had supported the formation of 10 other facility-based support groups across the state.

FHI360 has consistently supported Abraham and the “Society for Future Health “which now receives assistance from the SIDHAS project. The continuous quality improvement (CQI) component of the SIDHAS project has not only improved his skill and that of his staff but has strengthened the organization across three domains – financial, institutional and programmatic capacity development. He says “FHI360 has not only given me fish but has taught me how to fish.” Society for Future Health” is now positioned to competitively bid for grants and recently got a grant from Taraba Agency for the Control of AIDS (TACA).

Another remarkable turning point in Abraham’s life was his eventual decision to seek a life partner. He had feared getting married because of the real possibility of transmitting the HIV virus to his spouse and offspring. He overcame this phobia and got married in 2007. He took advantage of the PMTCT program and today has three children who are all HIV negative. He is presently an employer of labour and a beacon of hope for PLWHA in Taraba State.

“Although our parents are HIV positive, with support from USAID’s PMTCT Program, we are HIV free

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