Partner Disclosure in Côte d’Ivoire
Jacqueline Dreesen, EGPAF-CDI
Adult HIV Care and Treatment
Yvonne is a timid young woman who is married to Patrice. She looks forward to starting a family. After becoming pregnant, Yvonne was diagnosed with HIV during her first visit to the health clinic through services supported by the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) and provided by a community health worker, Suzanne. Yvonne was frightened; Suzanne’s words did not resonate with her and Yvonne did not take her medication regularly or disclose her HIV status to her husband. She was scared if he learned the truth he would leave her, or that his family would disown her.
At delivery, her child had serious health issues and died 8 weeks later. Her hope for a happy and healthy family diminished and questions filled her: What was this virus? Why her? Why now? Her grief affected her marriage, as she spent days crying with little energy for anything else in life.
Months passed and in 2017, Yvonne became pregnant with her second child. Suzanne recognizing her patient in the clinic again, began to provide exhaustive counseling and conducted home visits to try to understand the situation. For her health and the health of her child, Suzanne advised Yvonne to take her medicine, respect her appointments, and disclose her status to her husband. Suzanne asked Yvonne bring her husband in for partner HIV testing services; a program activity scaled up by EGPAF in Cote d’Ivoire.
Yvonne’s husband agreed to come to the clinic with his wife and meet with Suzanne. He recognized her from the home visits and felt comfortable speaking with her. He told her that he knew that his wife was taking some medicine and that she was hiding them. Suzanne, who had previously counseled Yvonne on how to tell Patrice, left to give them some privacy in her office.
When she returned after half an hour, Patrice announced to Suzanne that he loved his wife and was ready to do anything possible to keep her and the child she was caring safe. It was a relief for both Yvonne and Suzanne. Patrice asked several questions about the side effects of the medication and the risks factors. Suzanne felt at ease and made herself available to the couple, providing counseling and support to them.
Several months later, Yvonne gave birth to a healthy baby boy. During a recent home visit, Suzanne was able to test the rest of boy and also extended family members. The results were negative and they will be retested in three months.
Thanks to the dedication of the health care workers and services provided by EGPAF, Yvonne and Patrice can look forward to a long healthy life for their new son and a happy future for their family.