Wednesday, June 24th, 2015
Monday 2nd April 2012 started out as a normal day for me, I woke up and planned my day like I normally do. However, I wasn’t feeling fine so I went to the health center to seek treatment; little did I know that this visit would change my life. The nurse in charge asked me what was bothering me; I explained to her that I felt a bit of fever and general body weakness. She told me that they were going to test and see if it was Malaria. Just then as a by the way, she asked if I had ever taken an HIV test, to this I replied “No, nurse I have never taken the test. I have no reason to.” She looked at me with a bit of concern, and told me that an HIV test is one of the most important tests one can take; knowing your status helps you live a more responsible life she asserted. She then took me to a more private place, and while there, she called in another lady who was calmer and nicer, it was the doctor. She also explained what the nurse had previously told me and following the conversation, I agreed to take the test with all the confidence that there was no way I could have the HIV virus.
I had not been a promiscuous person, and all the stories about HIV that I had heard were that the virus is for the promiscuous people. I gladly allowed them to take a sample of my blood and patiently waited. Usually people say that those few minutes of waiting for your result, are the longest, however that was not case on my side.
Fifteen minutes later, the lab technician delivered the test results to the Doctor. n. It was hard to read the Doctor’s face, but the first thing she asked me was what will you do if you find out that you are HIV positive? I just told her there is nothing I can do because I knew that I was not positive. She from that point gave me a speech of how I should live my life in case I find out that I am positive. Before getting anxious on why the her speech was so long, I remember she told me that being positive did not mean that it was the end of life. I started wondering why she was not telling me truth so that I go back home and prepare a meal for my family!
She then reached for the paper got up from her seat and walked over to where I was. Her next statement was “Unfortunately, the blood test shows that you are HIV positive”.
“Atim”, she reached out to me and put her hands over my shoulder; “I know this might be come as a shock to you and it might even take you a while to accept this result.” You need to know that we did the test three times just to be sure. Looking at her still in disbelief and tears forming in my eyes I ask her, “Dr how will I tell my husband? What will he think of me? What will my family say? Who will take care of my children?” At this point I couldn’t hold back the tears “God why me, why me? What did I do to deserve this kind of punishment? My children, my little children they still need their mother.”
When I finished pouring my heart out, the Doctor smiled and looked at me and said; “Atim, this is not the end of your life. The virus is not a death sentence, you will just have to change a few things but other than that, you will continue to live a healthy and normal life.” “And even have more children if you want.” Still heartbroken I asked her whether she was sure of what she was saying. She assured me that the health workers would be ready to talk to my husband but tasked me to ensure that I come with him to the health center. I agreed to this, request but I still wasn’t sure how to get him to come to the health center.
I went back home visibly weak, when my husband came back home, he found me withdrawn and deep in thought. He asked if I had received the treatment but at that point, I broke down again and I just told him that when I went to the hospital, I was found HIV positive. I waited for him to respond with anger, but to my surprise his reaction was that of sincere concern. He advised me to be strong and firm despite all that was going on and appreciated me for being open. After a few days, he agreed to go with to Kachumbala Health Center III and he tested HIV negative. Thereafter we were counseled by the health worker who also advised us on how to live in a discordant relationship without violence. At this time I was doing voluntary work in Kachumbala Health Center III, the health workers were so kind that they kept on advising me on positive living. This boosted my adaptation mechanism and l found living worthwhile.
So on the on the August 08th, 2012, the unit decided to send me to Bukedea to attend a work shop on Elimination of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV, where I learnt about positive living, breast feeding, and also initiating pregnant mother on ARVs if they were previously on septrine. I have been able to overcome the fear to disclose, stigma and discrimination in the community. I was later assigned to work in maternity as a peer mother which also enabled me to disclose to the mothers and community.
In this discordant relationship, we have been able to get a baby child with my husband who is now 9 months and so far the PCR results were negative.