My name is Mohammed Were and I come from Kapeeka, a village in Nakeseke district that is 60 kilometres from Kampala. I first came to AMS in 2007 when my CD4 was 13 and my weight was 37 kg. My relatives and friends really thought I was heading to the grave. They stood by me regardless.
I was often too sad about my HIV-status and the thought of leaving my children helpless depressed me the more. During that time, I got challenges with my adherence and my health got worse. The Alive Medical Services (AMS) counsellors and doctors did not give up on me regardless. Through the intensive counselling services offered at AMS, I was given hope and reason to live again.
I was reassured of the importance of my life and to the people I care about. This was a wake-up call for me and since 2010, I have had good adherence to my medication. Now my CD4 is 459 and my weight has increased to 64 kg.
I was also put on the food support programme where I would get 7 kilograms of beans, maize flour and 2 kilograms of sugar every month. This also boosted my health since I could barely make a living.
Back at home, I am a representative for Kapeeka, coming back periodically to get medication and food for others. This system was made possible by AMS which is the Community ART pickup method. It enables people that are HIV-positive but live far from AMS and have limited resources to come regularly for treatment to access the drugs on rotational basis.
We make a group of 6 people and mobilize funds for one of us to come to the clinic once a month during a food day to pick up drugs and food for the rest. Every month the person to do the pickup is different so that each of us gets a chance to interact with the doctors and have our vitals checked.
Along with other members in Kapeeka, we started the Kapeeka gardening group that begun with only 10 HIV-positive members and now exceed 300. These people thought that they had no chance of living, but now after taking their medication religiously, they do have hope to live a fruitful life. In addition, with support from AMS and Development in Gardening (DIG), we have been able to grow our own crops that we sell and earn some income to sustain ourselves and families. We took DIG courses and now teach others gardening techniques. Also, we try to find more people who are HIV-positive by providing a stigma-free, safe space to disclose so that we can connect them to AMS.
“AMS taught me to accept my status, how to live positively, and know that I am valuable in making the next generation free of AIDS. I would want my grandchildren to see that day.”