My name is Marta and I’m 20 years old. I have two children — one is three years old and one is just 20 months. I live in Mahubo, Mozambique
, 25 kilometers from the nearest city of Boane.
I found out I was HIV-positive in 2006, when I was pregnant with my second child. I went to the health center in Boane — which is supported by the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation — for prenatal care, and that is when I discovered my status. I received HIV counseling and testing, as well as pills to reduce the risk of transmitting HIV to my baby.
I gave birth to a healthy baby boy, and I followed my counselors’ advice – exclusively breastfeeding him and not using any traditional medicine. My baby was tested for HIV when he was one month old and we received the results two months later. The result was negative. I continued to breastfeed for six months and then began feeding my baby cow’s milk and other foods produced on my small farm.
My son took the last test at 20 months of age to confirm his HIV status. Once again, the result was negative. I was very happy, but I was afraid to bring my older child to be tested, as I had not accessed prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) services while I was pregnant with her. But with the help of the lay counselor at the health center, my daughter took the test and she, too, was HIV-negative.
I still have not told my mother about my HIV status. I do not want to traumatize her since she has already lost her husband, who contracted HIV while working in South Africa. However, I have disclosed my HIV status to my mother-in-law, and she promised our HIV counselor that when her son (my husband) returns from South Africa, she will have him go to the health center in Boane for testing.
I am now receiving treatment, and I encourage all pregnant women, and everyone else, to be tested for HIV and to follow the advice of health workers. This is the only way we can save ourselves and our children.