Taking care of a child – any child – is never easy. But when Irene found out her adopted daughter, Gift, was HIV-positive, she was at a loss for what to do. Gift’s diagnosis came during a difficult time, as Irene brought the baby to Alive Medical Services (AMS) when she was near death. After the doctors and nurses treated Gift, she was started on antiretroviral medication at the age of 2.
“I had never taken care of an HIV-positive person before,” Irene said. “AMS did so many tests and figured out what was happening to my child.”
After Gift’s condition stabilized, Irene continued visiting AMS to seek out advice and retrieve Gift’s medication. The counsellors helped Irene understand the importance of proper disclosure, and taught her methods of discussing HIV in ways that wouldn’t scare or stigmatize her daughter. For years, Irene and Gift took medication together, turning it into a morning routine where Irene would swallow her vitamin supplements, while Gift would take her antiretroviral treatment.
When Irene felt Gift was old enough to know the truth, Irene was honest with her. After discussing her status just the two of them, Irene took Gift to visit the AMS counsellors. Though she was only 8 years old at the time, Gift immediately started tracking her medications with a watch, taking full control over her treatment and her health.
“She really was amazing, and I’m so proud of her,” Irene said. “But she also got the right information from the right people at the right time.”
Gift is now 9 years old, and Irene reports that she feels free about her diagnosis. Her health is stable, and she has disclosed her status to the older members of her family.
“I used to think: how am I going to do this?” Irene said. “I used to be scared. But I thank God for Alive. Now I know exactly how to care for my child.”