In Honour of My Daughter14 July 2015
One of the powerful stories that UNAIDS featured its new report “How AIDS Changed Everything” is that of Nalumu Vivien Juliet, a Mentor Mother employed by m2m Uganda who is also one of our inspirational spokeswomen. The story she shared with UNAIDS (P. 370) is excerpted below:
I was 26 years old, and with my first pregnancy, happily looking forward to producing a healthy baby. I went to the
health centre for the normal antenatal care and, as part of the routine, I was tested for HIV. In one minute, all my joy disappeared, replaced by fear and anxiety when the results were positive.
My first thought was of who would take care of me. My mother had died of AIDS, so I knew what it could do.
The nurse advised me to share my results with my husband because I would need a lot of support to produce and raise an HIV-free baby. Let me tell you for a moment about my home life. I am one of my husband’s three wives, which is customary where I come from. My fear was that once I revealed my status, my husband would kick me out of the house and I would have nothing to live on. It was impossible to keep going to the hospital for treatment because I need money from him for transport. I took some time without medications and became extremely ill.
I gave birth to twin baby girls. The first baby developed an HIV-related illness, and she died at four months. At nine months, my other little one also became ill. She was admitted to the hospital and also tested positive. We took medication secretly because I still had not disclosed my status to my husband.
When mothers2mothers (m2m) came to Uganda in 2010, I applied to become a Mentor Mother and my life turned all the way around. During the first training, I learned about the importance of telling your family about your HIV status.
With m2m’s support, I disclosed my status to my husband, and he and one of his other wives tested positive and were
initiated on treatment.
More empowered than ever, I decided that I would use the knowledge I was giving to other women to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV, and I delivered two more children, both of whom are HIV-free.
mothers2mothers has empowered me to be a role model and a pillar of hope in my own community. I empower other mothers to fight stigma and raise HIV-negative babies.
There also is something else, something bigger: mothers2mothers has given me the opportunity to participate
in the global struggle against paediatric HIV, which took the life of my lovely baby girl. It is my hope that we can empower each and every mother to access the treatment that is vital to their healthÑand that we can achieve our goal of an AIDS-free generation. For my part, I do everything in my capacity to support and educate all the women in my care to ensure that no more babies are infected with HIV.