I am 25 years old and my name is Wema Sanga (Wema is a Swahili word for kindness). I was born just two days after Xmas Day. And I am glad that I kept my virginity until six years ago when I got married to Herode Fungo who is now 36.
Herode and I have two children. Odester Fungo is six and Hongera Fungo is two years and five months.
In 2004, I realized that I had the AIDS virus after I went for an HIV test. I took this action after nursing my husband for a very long time from one hospital to another. We even went to traditional doctors and witchdoctors without success. I was forced to sell all my hens, goats, pigs, wheat, maize and beans to pay for his medication. But all was in vain.
Then one day I heard about home-based care givers' activities in the area. I decided to visit them and narrated my whole story to them. They told me about the HAART programme - Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy. I went for counselling and voluntary testing. It was then that I found out about my health status.
I got all the support from the counsellors of the HAART programme at the Bulongwa Lutheran Hospital and now in our non-governmental organisation of People Living with HIV/AIDS, PIUMA.
I love my children and I want to see them grow old. I have decided to change my behaviour and steer away from promiscuity, although I have never had sex outside our marriage. When my husband and I have sex, we use condoms.
I am always active in PIUMA and we discuss everything with great openness. I also decided to take our children for an HIV Test. Thank God they are both HIV negative.
At the HAART clinic I was told that my Cd4 Count is higher than that of my husband Herode, who is on ARVs now. His health has improved. I haven't yet started to take the drug.
Now that we know what the problem is and that the drugs to enable us live longer are available, I live without fear and we no longer sell our livestock and grain. What I have learnt now is that even if you are HIV positive, you can live just like those people who haven't been infected with the virus. For me, it is stupid to live in fear once you know your health status. And there is no need to be afraid of testing for the virus.
My ambition is to involve myself in sustainable income-generating schemes which will enable me to take care of my children, build them a house and give them good education. I also want to become a peer-educator for my community and drive away the fear of going for an HIV Test. There is no need to be afraid!
I have decided to join the HIV/AIDS campaign because I feel pity on the society that has been misled into believing that HIV positive means a Death Warrant! This is not true. We, at PIUMA say that: AIDS is NOT DEATH. I have gained a lot from our organisation and I am grateful for all those who have made it possible for us to start this group.
I advise my fellow women to stop having unsafe sex and promiscuity. They should not have sex with other women's husbands. I urge them to stop excessive drinking as this may lead them to have unprotected sex.
By Wema Sanga
August 27, 2005.