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SHE TOOK BACK CONTROL OF HER LIFE FROM HIV: ZAINABS’ STORY

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Family Health International (FHI 360) has for over ten years sustained support to the HIV/AIDS response in Kano State with resources from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). As part of routine technical assistance to the health sector driven HIV response, FHI 360 technical teams undertake routine mentoring and supervisory visits to state wide facilities receiving support under USAID funded Strengthening Integrated Delivery of HIV/AIDS Services (SIDHAS) project. It was on one such visits to Hasiya Bayero Pediatric Hospital (HBPH), a SIDHAS supported facility that the team met Zainab, the captivating mother of two. Her story touched the core of their being as she opened up and shared her story with the team. She recounts…” One of the most painful parts of being diagnosed with HIV is having no one to talk to about it. You could actually feel life leaving you and there’s nothing you can do about it.”  

Zainab has been living positively and happily for the past three years through the impact of the “Positive Health, Dignity and Prevention – PHDP” interventions she was exposed to under the SIDHAS project. But it wasn’t always so for Zainab who recounted her experiences before she got to where she is in presently. This is her story….

“My late husband’s health (with whom I have two lovely kids) took a downward turn four years ago in what could be described as the most distressing period I have ever experienced. We resorted to consulting with patent medicine vendors (PMVs) who prescribed all kinds of medications for him and traditional healers as a local treatment alternative. You may be wondering why we did not go to a hospital instead? The reason is not farfetched. PMVs are usually our first resort for treatment and this situation is further complicated by my husband’s distaste for hospital environments. Consequently, we only visited the hospital when his condition got really bad. Sadly, the ailment progressed rapidly and he eventually passed on. I was devastated and now left with the burden of catering for our two children. As if that wasn’t enough, one of my children who is now seven years old fell ill repeatedly. I took him to Hasiya Bayero Pediatric Hospital (HBPH), a renowned hospital for children where investigations were carried out and the heart wrenching news was relayed to me. My child was HIV positive!

I couldn’t understand. He was only a child. I struggled to find the words and eventually summoned enough courage to ask one of the most difficult questions I have ever had to ask anyone. How did my child come down with this disease? The Doctor in a gentle tone and careful not to aggravate my already distressed condition explained to me the concept of mother to child transmission of HIV. He however said the only way this can be known with all certainty was by my going for a HIV test. I was numb and all I could think about was – did I bring this upon my innocent child. Needless to say, I was found HIV positive too. After all other confirmatory tests, my child and I were placed on treatment which thankfully was at no cost to me.

I couldn’t talk to anybody. I was battling it all alone. I started looking forward to going to my hospital just because I could speak freely about my condition with the nurses. I asked them a lot of questions, most of which touched on my ability to continue to function even as an HIV positive person. They quickly understood what I needed and invited me to a support group recently created in the hospital to give HIV positive clients a platform to interact with each other. The first meeting was an eye opener, I met HIV positive people attending the same clinic as me who have lost loved ones too. They spoke freely and it was like a big weight was lifted off me.

After several visits I met Abdul. He was diagnosed with HIV 3 years prior to our meeting. He runs his business smoothly and from the way he dressed, I could tell he wasn’t doing badly. The first advice he gave me was to never miss my medications. One thing led to another and we eventually tied the nuptial knot. We now have two children between us who are HIV negative. This was as a result of the care I received under the Prevention of Mother to Child Program (PMTCT) supported through technical assistance from the SIDHAS project. The application of Positive Health, Dignity and Prevention (PHDP) as a holistic package within the SIDHAS project benefitted both I and my spouse immensely. My HIV positive child has been receiving care under the paediatric antiretroviral treatment program and is doing very well.

Now I can boldly say, I am HIV positive and living positively. I am blessed with a husband and children. Lifesaving antiretrovirals are available to my family at no cost. This is all thanks to the United States Government through the SIDHAS project. I feel alive again with hope for the future and partner to share my life with.”

 


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