Junior is a chubby, happy, and playful 11-month-old baby. He is the pride and joy of his parents Wenceslaus and Gloria of Ishongororo, a sub-county of Ibanda district, Uganda. And he is free of HIV.
During a regular antenatal visit when she was six months pregnant with Junior, Gloria discovered that she was HIV-positive. She and her husband Wenceslaus, who had discovered he was HIV-positive shortly before Gloria did, also had their three-year-old son tested.
“We tested him twice and were so happy when the results turned out negative both times,” said Gloria.
To prevent transmission of the virus to her unborn child, Gloria immediately began prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) services. Through these services Gloria was given medicines to protect her unborn baby. Gloria gave birth to Junior three months later at Ishongororo Health Center IV – a Facility supported by the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. Junior was also given medicines to further reduce the risk of HIV infection.
“After delivery, my wife and I were counseled on feeding options for our baby and we opted for exclusive replacement feeding instead of breastfeeding since we could afford alternative supplements,“ said Wenceslaus.
Today, both Wenceslaus and Gloria are on medicines to suppress the virus and keep them healthy.
“I have been doing volunteer HIV work for more than seven years,” Wenceslaus says. “As an HIV/AIDS counselor, I know we can live long and healthy lives – and as the head of my family, I know that I need to be strong for my wife and sons. I cannot lose hope. Yes, it is sad that my wife and I are both HIV-positive, but thankfully, our boys are both negative. That gives us the courage to face each day with renewed strength.”