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 Sunday 15 July 2007
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"I thought I'd be dead today, but I am living for the future"
May 2007 (PlusNews)

Photo: Georgina Cranston/IRIN
A new lease of life
NAIROBI, Thirty-six-year-old Elizabeth Wamaitha is a widow raising a small child. When she learnt she was HIV-positive it seemed like the end of the world, but she now has a new lease on life.

"In 1996, I married a very violent man. It was worse because for six years I was unable to have a child. Finally, in 2002, I fell pregnant. At the same time I learned that I had TB, but I gave birth to a baby girl in September of that year - two months after her birth I left my husband.

I moved in with my younger sister in Nairobi, but I was constantly falling sick. Faith, my little girl, was also always ill; she got boils that took a long time to heal and was coughing.

Months later, I learned that my husband was sick and had fallen into a coma. Days later he passed away, but my in-laws no longer considered me part of their family so they didn't tell me.

I decided to visit Mbagathi Hospital in Nairobi – I was worried because my husband had died and I didn't know why. The doctors tested me and found I was HIV-positive.

I didn’t want to continue living; I felt like a burden to my sister, to everyone. I had no job, my only child was in pain and I was always crying - I just wanted to end the pain.

At the hospital, we were given ARVs [life-prolonging antiretroviral therapy]. I have been on these drugs for two years and four months now, and Faith has been on them for one year and eight months - she doesn't know why she takes these drugs.

I help out at my sister's kiosk, but it's tough: I only make about 150 shillings from nine in the morning till eleven at night. Many people feel uncomfortable coming to my kiosk; they prefer to go somewhere where they don't have to feel pity for the trader. Still, I have saved some cash for Faith's school fees - she starts nursery school soon. I am planning to open up a clothes-washing business to support us.

I am happy I am able to keep alive and provide whatever I can for my daughter. I was expecting to have died right after her my husband. Three years ago I was dying. Today I know that HIV/AIDS is not the end of the world, but rather it has been a turning point in my life."



[The above testimony is provided by IRIN, a humanitarian news service, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations.]

IRIN welcomes editorial and photographic submissions for inclusion on this page, reserving the right to select and edit as appropriate.
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This material comes to you via IRIN, the humanitarian news and analysis service of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the United Nations or its Member States. Republication is subject to terms and conditions as set out in the IRIN copyright page.