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Disebo tells her story Print E-mail

Name: Disebo

Female
Age: 39 years

This ZuziMpilo Medical Centre patient thought she would die within three days of her AIDS diagnosis which she discovered after the birth of her son. Rather than tell her family the truth, she told her mom she had Cancer, but when she finally admitted to having AIDS, she was almost forced to leave home. Thankfully she began on ARVs. She says: “Seven year later I am still doing well on treatment and living a healthy life thanks to the drugs. Antiretroviral medication really works!”

I found out about my HIV status in October 1996 after giving birth to my son. I had been suffering from genital thrush since August. The doctors had  tried to treat it but it only disappeared for a week and then it would come back again. That’s when they suggested I take an HIV test. I didn’t know anything about HIV; but I agreed to be tested. The nursing sister did not provide me with any counseling at all. She just  drew blood and told me to come back.

When I came back for results after two weeks, the sister asked me if I knew anything about  AIDS. I told her that I had heard people talk about it, but I do not know much. She opened my file and said my test was positive and that I had AIDS.

When I heard that, I felt weak and disorientated. This is because the little information I had was that if you are HIV positive or have AIDS you only live for 3 days and then die. I could not belief that I would be dead in 3 days. I thought of my baby son growing up without a mother. As I was trying to understand what all this meant for me, the sister gave me my file back as a sign that I must leave. I left and she called the next patient. She did not give me time to ask any questions, or explain what the diagnosis means and what was in store for me.

On my way home I tore up my clinic file. When my mom came back from work she asked me about my results. I said to her they didn’t find anything wrong and all is well with me. I just did not know how to tell her that I would be dead in 3 days. I was hurting inside and anxiously awaiting my death. To my pleasant surprise days went by, then weeks and months and I was still alive. I then concluded that the sister at the clinic had made a mistake, that  I was not HIV positive. I decided to forget about the whole story and go on with my life. I concentrated on raising my son; and started a small business of selling beverages from home. The thrush healed and I was doing well.

In 2000 I became very sick. I lost weight and my appetite, my hair started to fall out and I couldn’t walk properly.  I went to the clinic and opened a new file. They tested me again for HIV. The results came back positive. This time round I was counseled and introduced to a support group. When I got home I still could not tell my family the sad news of this chronic life disease without cure. I knew people with HIV were discriminated and ridiculed. I decided to tell my mom that I have cancer. She was very supportive and took good care of me.

One day one of my customers was enquiring about my sickness when she came to buy a drink. I could not keep the secret anymore, I just burst out with everybody listening that I have AIDS and ran out of the room. Things really changed at home. My mom and sisters rejected me. They did not want to be in the same room as me, they asked that I use different eating utensils which were kept separate from theirs. They ran to clean the toilet after I had used it. At times they would say that I should leave the house before I could pass my AIDS to them. I felt suicidal at that time. The only thing that kept me going was my son, I knew I had to continue living as long as possible for his sake.

During one of the support group meetings I spoke about how things were at home. I shared my worries that very soon my son and I might not have a place to stay. They referred me to a police woman who was HIV positive, and together with a social worker they managed to force my family to come for HIV/AIDS counseling. These sessions were hard on all of us, most of the time we left there crying. However it was worth it.

My family then came to understand the disease better, and their attitude changed. They soon started to be supportive, caring and loving towards me and my son.

In 2003 I started suffering from a mouth ulcer. For 5 months I couldn’t eat anything hard and I was taking liquids only. I lost a lot of weight and my CD4 count was 47 at that time. In September 2003 I started taking ARVs, and my health improved dramatically. Seven year later I am still doing well on treatment and living a healthy life thanks to the drugs. Antiretroviral medication really works!

 

 

 

One man’s reaction to his diagnosis.

 

How this lady’s life has improved

10 ways to be successful on ARVs

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Antiretroviral therapy typically combines three or more antiretroviral drugs that work together to keep the HI Virus from multiplying. Although antiretroviral drugs improve health and delay death, they do not cure HIV/AIDS.

 

  1. Commit to drug taking: ART is lifelong treatment which needs to be taken correctly for it to be effective.
  2. Get to know your treatment: Ensure that you know and understand what medication you are on and how to take it.
  3. Choose a pill time: Get help from your healthcare provider to work out a medication schedule that will fit into your daily activities.
  4. Remember your medication: Make use of an alarm clock or cellphone to remind you when to take your medication.
  5. Get a pillbox: Keep a supply of your drugs with you wherever you go, so that you do not miss your pill time (it also helps to have a bottle of water with you).
  6. Get a treatment buddy: It helps to disclose to someone close to you, preferably someone who lives with you, who will be able to offer you support and to remind you to take your treatment.
  7. Missed doses: If you miss a dose take it as soon as you remember. But if it’s almost time for your next dose then you should wait and take the next dose. Do not take double doses.
  8. Stopping treatment: Do not stop treatment on your own, unless instructed to do so by your doctor.
  9. Be aware of side effects: Ensure that your health care provider has explained to you any possible side effects that you may experience. If you do experience any report them to your Health care provider as soon as possible.
  10. Monitoring and evaluation: Be sure to keep all scheduled appointments with your healthcare provider, especially in the first few months of taking treatment, so that the effect of the treatment can be monitored.

 

 

Name: Sarah
Female
Age: 34 years

This patient found out that she was HIV positive when she was 4 months pregnant. She struggled to tell her mom and her partner who also found out he was HIV positive. She gave birth to an HIV negative son. Her family supports her to take her ARVS every evening when Generations begin and she hasn’t looked back. In fact she often forgets she is HIV positive!

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Name: Disebo

Female
Age: 39 years

This ZuziMpilo Medical Centre patient thought she would die within three days of her AIDS diagnosis which she discovered after the birth of her son. Rather than tell her family the truth, she told her mom she had Cancer, but when she finally admitted to having AIDS, she was almost forced to leave home. Thankfully she began on ARVs. She says: “Seven year later I am still doing well on treatment and living a healthy life thanks to the drugs. Antiretroviral medication really works!”

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