Linda is a 28-year-old mother of two living in Mityana. She has been married for the past six years, living positively with HIV. As Linda sits in the consultation room for her monthly appointment at Alive Medical Services, she shares her story:
“I am a housewife who dropped out of school at the age of 18 right after my senior six. I lived a happy life until April 2008 when my world nearly crumbled. I began falling sick very often, developed a constant body rash and lost a tremendous amount of weight.
I was living in Kisugu (a Kampala suburb) when a friend directed me to Alive Medical Services for an HIV test. At first I was hesitant to go but I had also heard that AMS provided free medical care and treatment to people living with HIV. On arrival, I was so impressed by how pleasant the nurses were to me. After ushering me in, I was sent to the counsellors and thereafter to the laboratory for a blood sample to be tested.
The wait was the longest I have experienced in my life and when it came back positive, I despaired and felt so enraged. My partner at the time was in denial that I had tested HIV-positive and he never got himself to accept the truth until our separation. My family on the other hand was so supportive and kept emphasizing my value to the world, which at that point angered me but now I realize that they are the best family I could ever ask for. They encouraged me to adhere to my medication just like the counsellors and doctors at AMS had done tirelessly.
At first it was not advice that I took on willingly because I felt worthless. I started taking alcohol with the medication hoping that I could die in my sleep. All in vain, this did not work. I lost a lot of weight and this pushed me into depression, but the doctors at AMS kept giving hope. They also put me on the food supplements. My appetite improved and I had a weight gain from 30kgs to 39kgs within a period of 2 months.
Having my two children is a result of the love and encouragement that surrounded me. Both my children (11 and 5 years of age) are HIV-negative and are living healthy lives. I was able to get married and my husband and I are a discordant couple. He is a very supportive partner and we both come for regular check-ups at AMS.
When I reflect on the past eight years, I am very grateful for the life I have now as a result of the love that AMS treated me with. It is from this place that I realized that I had a second chance at life and that it was not over for me. Every life matters!
Back home in Mityana, I have a 3-acre garden that I tend to with my husband. Together we rear animals and cultivate crops depending on the most suitable season for a particular crop. We sell the produce to vendors at the local market and get enough profit to provide for our children and to lend a hand to other extended family members.
Today I can boast of the support I have rendered to my family; I have educated my two brothers, of which one is now a lecturer and the other is concluding his university studies this December. When I look at them, I am even more encouraged to tell other people like me to not despair because their purpose in life is not yet fulfilled. If it wasn’t for AMS, I wouldn’t be here today!”