Beatrice and Lightness Andrea. (Photo: EGPAF)
Beatrice. (Photo: Nigel Barker LLC)
My name is Beatrice and I am 22 years old. I live with my parents in Machame Aleni village in the Rombo district of Tanzania
. I am a stay-at-home mother and also a part-time volunteer teacher at a nearby primary school. I have a daughter called Lightness Andrea, who is now 10 months old.
I completed secondary school in 2006 and planned to start teachers’ college in 2007, but unfortunately I never made it to college because I didn’t have money for school fees. I had a boyfriend in my village during that time, and we had unprotected sex.
Later that year, when I was 20 years old, I moved to Dar es Salaam to work for a family as a housemaid. Soon after I arrived, I realized that I was one month pregnant with my boyfriend’s baby. But I did not disclose this to anyone and continued doing my work.
To make matters worse, there was a boy in the house where I worked who had frequent unprotected sex with me. I believe that I acquired HIV from this boy.
After three months in Dar es Salaam, I went home to my village and told my boyfriend that I was pregnant. When I told him the news, he suggested that we move to the city of Arusha. While there, I went to a clinic for HIV testing and found I was HIV-positive. I was shocked and did not disclose my status to anyone at first.
When I was seven months pregnant I moved back home and shared my HIV status with my mother. I began to receive antenatal care at Huruma Hospital, which is supported by the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. I disclosed my HIV status to my doctor, who suggested I undergo HIV couples’ counseling and testing with my boyfriend. We tested together and while my result was of course positive, my boyfriend tested HIV-negative. During the counseling session, he agreed to take care of me despite my status. But since that day I have never seen him again.
I enrolled in the HIV care and treatment program at Huruma Hospital and began taking antiretroviral medication (ARVs) to treat my HIV and to prevent transmission of the virus to my baby. Later on I safely delivered my daughter at the hospital. Four months later, to my great joy, my daughter was tested and found to be HIV-negative.
Today I am doing fine. Lightness Andrea is healthy, and I am receiving HIV care and treatment at a smaller health center near my home. I have accepted my HIV status and I am happy that my family supports me. I would like to continue with my education, have a job, and support my baby.