9 January 2013

South Africa: HIV-Positive Mom Optimistic About Future

My daughter is 5-years-old. She is beautiful, intelligent and smart. Every time I look at her she reminds me of where I've been and gives me hope for the road ahead. Right now the future looks bright for us - but that wasn’t always the case.

My husband and I were very excited when I fell pregnant in 2006. We’ve been trying to conceive for a couple of years and by that time we weren’t sure if we could have a child. So when it did happen, we felt truly blessed - but little did we know what was still to come.

When I went to see the doctor for an ultrasound he commented on a mark in my neck, which I thought was just an insect bite. He said that it looked like shingles, which could be an indication that I was HIV positive.

I was very upset at the news that I may be HIV positive, especially when the doctor suggested that I might have to terminate the pregnancy. Shocked and confused I walked out of the doctor’s office without even completing the ultrasound and asked my husband to take me to the nearest hospital where I can get an HIV test.

As I feared the result for my HIV test came back positive, but at the new facility they were able to counsel me about my condition and I learned that I didn’t have to terminate my pregnancy, and that there is a good chance that my child may be HIV negative. Fearing for my health, my husband was hesitant to go through with the pregnancy, but after counselling he also understood that HIV-positive people can live long, healthy lives.

Today the Prevention-from-Mother-to-Child-Treatment (PMTCT) is a lot more advanced than when I was pregnant five years ago. But I took the medication as indicated and made sure my baby girl received her Nevirapine drops at birth, and today she is five-years old and HIV-negative.

I have since also started on highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) and am determined to stay healthy and live positively so that I can see my daughter graduate from university.

Thandiwe Mazanqinqi-Zamisa is an OurHealth Citizen Journalist reporting from Mgungundlovu health district in KwaZulu-Natal.

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