Alice and her daughter, Eva.
I am Alice. I am 35 years old and live in Moamba, a district in Mozambique
’s Maputo Province near the South Africa border.
When I got pregnant two years ago, I went to the health center for a pre-natal visit and I was tested for HIV. The result was positive. I was surprised and full of bitterness. I still remember how I cried after finding out — I had no will or strength to live. But thanks to a counselor that did not give up on me, I am here today.
My counselor helped me understand that being HIV-positive does not mean my life is over, and that together we could find a way to convince my husband to come to the hospital to be tested, without directly telling him the reason. We would say he should accompany me to support my pregnancy.
I invited my husband to the health center, just as I had agreed to do. When we arrived, the counselor began to counsel us as if it was the first time. She talked of various illnesses that mothers can transmit to their children, and the need to take an HIV test during pregnancy. It was difficult for my husband to accept the test, but after much talking we took the test together. It was the toughest moment of my life.
Following the test, the counselor talked to us about discordant results – when one partner tests positive and other negative. She asked my husband how he would feel if our results were different. My husband did not respond right away, and eventually replied that we would not know what to do. When the results were ready, the counselor asked me to read his results and vice versa. My test was positive and my husband’s was negative.
We continued to talk when we arrived home. But I could not say much, and my husband understood that I was very upset. That night I cried a lot, and he held my hand and said, “Don’t cry my wife, tomorrow we will go to the hospital to better understand how I can help you.”
My husband supported me. He helped me to take my medication to prevent HIV transmission to my child. I followed all of the recommendations of the nurse and the counselor. My baby took medicine when she was born, and I went to consultations with my baby and my husband. My husband also encouraged me to participate in the support groups for people living with HIV. When my baby was five months old, I stopped breastfeeding and I began to feed her porridge and soup. I never stopped attending my consultations.
I am still healthy so I do not have to take antiretroviral treatment for my HIV. I am only taking medicine to prevent opportunistic infections. I work every day and I am living a positive life. And above all, my baby is HIV-negative.
I feel very sad that there are women like me suffering in their own homes, just because they are HIV-positive. Many women do not receive the support they need and their children become infected with HIV as a result. I consider myself blessed because my husband supports me and I’ve had wonderful counselors.
We encourage everyone to help those in need because many women and children are suffering. We have safe sex and my husband is tested regularly. He has remained HIV-negative and life goes on.
Alice (third from right) with her daughter Eva, and husband Teodomiro (left). Also pictured: Alice's mother (second from left), health clinic lay counselor Unisse (third from left), and Foundation clinical officer Cibele Maquile. (Photo: EGPAF)
A note from Alice’s husband:
I am Teodomiro, Alice's husband. I want to ask all discordant couples to understand their partners’ situation to help them live in peace. I feel sad when my wife starts to think that she will be in pain because of her infection, and not live to see her children grow. But we always talk openly and I give her strength and support.