A Reason to Smile again – Diana’s Story
Ms. Diana, (real name concealed to protect identity of client) a young woman and trader hails from a rural community in Yenagoa local government area of Bayelsa State. Her family has been devastated since the loss of her husband to AIDS. Diana and her two year old son are also HIV positive. After her husband’s death, she was left with no hope of survival; but that was before she met the USAID funded SIDHAS project team who were on one of their targeted service activation visit to one of the facilities in her community. This encounter was to mark a turning point in her life.
This life changing encounter happened during a routine community mobilization and HIV testing and counseling outreach in Yenagoa as part of an anti – retroviral therapy (ART) site activation exercise. She was identified to be positive and she acknowledged she had known about her status. Unfortunately, due to fear of stigma and discrimination, she had kept it to herself and so was not accessing care and support services.
According to her, her husband had died of the same condition and nobody in her community suspected the cause of his death. She had already lost considerable weight and had skin rashes. Her two year old son was equally in a bad state.
Sustaining herself and her child was proving increasingly challenging. According to Diana, “My condition dey very bad. I get cold and serious pains for my body. I dey skinny and to waka na problem. I no know say treatment dey for my condition. I think say I go die”
During the post-test counselling, she initially declined going to the health facility to access treatment due to ignorance and for fear of having her status known by the community. She was reassured of outmost confidentiality and provided with all necessary information to enable her make an informed decision. Eventually, she consented to enroll for care, had all baseline assessments done and was commenced on ART.
Diana’s health has improved remarkably and she is now able to take good care of her positive child and reports his progress to the clinic routinely. ““Now I dey okay ooo. I thank USAID and FHI 360 staff for the good thing then do for me. In my village, I hear say one of my friend get HIV and she no know say the sickness get cure. I come carry myself go see the person to tell am say the sickness get cure” Diana says. She reported to the SIDHAS project team that she will support her and help her access treatment despite the family’s denial. Diana has indeed found a “reason to smile again.”