“Relieving the stress of keeping HIV a secret”
Christina hasn’t always been as self-assured as she is now. Living in secret, hiding her HIV status from her family for years drove her into a state of emotional disrepair. However, her life changed when she got a knock on her door from Phindile, a HOPE worldwide SA community worker.
“My son (11) and I are HIV positive.” Christina explains “At first I was afraid of disclosing our status to my husband and child. I kept it a secret. When I gave my child their medication, I would lie and tell my family that it was for flu or for our stomach. Phindile gained my trust so I decided to speak with her about my situation. I disclosed our status to her as well as how my child was doing at school.”
She advised that I go to Coronation (a local clinic) and speak to the doctors to get their thoughts on how I might be able to tell this to my husband. They brought my husband in and explained everything to him. As shocked as her husband was, he was and still is supportive and is now taking treatment himself. “That helped so much. I didn’t know before what to do further about the situation and this secret brought me stress daily.”
“Time and again, Phindile would come over. We became family. She would ask how things were going, how the child is, check their temperature, take their measurements, look out for any side effects and more. She helped me understand how my child should be taking the treatment and after taking it, she would check how my son was responding to it; whether he’s gaining or losing weight, how’s he processing things emotionally or whether the child is active.
While she was helping me know how I should live, she also helped me discover who I am. I would disguise medication containers before, putting the pills in paracetamol containers. Now, I’m free. I’m not stressed. I’m always happy. I don’t hide anything and I can put my medication out in public. That is why I can’t stop saying thank you HOPE worldwide SA. Even now, Phindile still comes by and checks on me. She still counsels me every now and again. I’ll always need counselling.
The work HOPE worldwide SA does with children, youth and HIV is in partnership with FHI360 and could not be done without them. A special thank you to them for helping us help families like Christina and her son!