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HOPE RE-AWAKENED: The Story of an HIV-positive teen who gave up all hope of life


Treasure (name changed) is the 16-year-old daughter of very poor parents. She dropped out of school at junior secondary level because her parents were unable to pay her tuition fees. Shortly after this, Treasure became very ill. Her parents, who could not afford to take her to the hospital for treatment, took her to prayer houses where her condition was attributed to a spiritual attack.

Treasure was taken to live with an aunt in Nkpor Community in Idemili North Local Government Area of Nigeria, and together they visited more prayer houses to find a cure for her sudden ill-health. A community-based organization (CBO), Rural Women Foundation (RWF), supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Strengthening Integrated Development of HIV/AIDS Services (SIDHAS) project, got wind of her plight and came to her aid.

The CBO enrolled Treasure into the orphan and vulnerable children (OVC) program in Nkpor community.  One of the services provided to registered children is HIV Testing Services. Treasure tested positive to HIV. She was counselled and referred to Comprehensive Health Centre Ukpo, where she was enrolled into care and placed on anti-retroviral therapy (ART). Treasure was also linked to a support group where she had the opportunity to relate with and learn from other HIV-positive people in her group.

While on treatment, her health improved remarkably. However, Treasure struggled with self-stigma and depression. Psychosocial support services facilitated by the CBO helped her to adjust to living with HIV and she gradually picked up and began to move on normally with life.

The foundation selected Treasure to be part of the vocational and entrepreneurial skill training offered by the project, where she learnt how to braid hair, fix weaves and polish nails. The skills she has acquired give her hope that the future she feared she had lost when she dropped out of school is still bright. Treasure now earns income from which she helps to pay school fees for her little brother in junior secondary school and supports the feeding of her family.

A story of an HIV-positive teen who almost gave up all hope of life, because of poverty and ill-health, but through a USAID-funded intervention for orphans and vulnerable children, was restored to life and supported to be the family breadwinner.

Treasure is now an inspiration to so many other young women. She can dream and live out her dream for all to see. She has this to say… “I am grateful to the sponsors of SIDHAS project. Without you, I wonder what my life would have been like,” she said.

Her aunt further said “Initially, I did not believe Rural Women Foundation when they said that Treasure will be okay if she starts treatment, but within three months of taking drugs, she started to blossom.”

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