For Teleza, getting tested for HIV was a new beginning.
She came to the antenatal clinic at Bwaila Hospital, a major maternity hospital in the capital city of Lilongwe, Malawi, when she was pregnant last year. She got tested for HIV for the first time there, and when the result came back positive, Teleza says she felt like she could finally take control of her health.
“Believe it or not, I was relieved,” Teleza says. “I had been feeling ill for some time, and I was glad to learn why. My next step was to figure out how to deal with it.”
The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation supports services to prevent transmission of HIV from mothers to their infants at health centers in Malawi, including Bwaila Hospital, where Teleza gave birth.
During her antenatal check-ups and delivery, Teleza received medication that would prevent HIV transmission to her baby. She also learned about how to exclusively breastfeed him during the first six months of his life – another measure that can help make sure babies stay healthy. The Foundation’s work at Bwaila has helped to train healthcare providers to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT), and to connect Teleza and other women living with HIV to the services they need.
“My child was just tested,” Teleza says. “I am sure he will be fine.”
Since learning her status, Teleza has been active in support groups for people living with HIV. She also receives ongoing counseling about how to get the medication she needs to live a healthy life, how to plan when she gets pregnant, and how to engage in safe sex. Her partner is supportive of her involvement in the HIV/AIDS community, and even came to get tested for HIV himself.
Teleza is planning to become a counselor herself, teaching other HIV-positive mothers what she has come to learn: knowledge is powerful.
“To be HIV-positive is not the end of a life,” Teleza says. “All you have to do is get educated, follow the rules, and take care of yourself. That way, you take care of your family.”
This Story of Hope was written by Mara Gordon, a Global Health Corps fellow working with the Foundation in Malawi.