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 Tuesday 17 February 2009
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Christine Akello, "I pray that a health centre is brought nearer our village"
February 2009 (PlusNews)

Photo: Charles Akena/IRIN
"I have to walk 24 kilometres every two weeks to get the drugs"
GULU, Thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) who sought refuge in camps in northern Uganda are returning to their villages, but those living with HIV are now experiencing greater difficulty accessing healthcare and medication. Christine Akello told IRIN/PlusNews her story.

"I tested HIV positive in 2003 while I was displaced in Opit IDP camp in Gulu [district in northern Uganda]. I could not believe my results - I thought the doctors had given me another person's results.

"I waited for three months and I went for another test ... and the result was again positive. I could not take it. I broke down; I thought it was the end of the world and I was waiting to die any moment.

"In November 2008 I fell very sick. My daughter took me to the health centre and doctors tested my CD4 count [a measure of immunity]. It was very low - 180 - and I started getting ARV drugs at Lalogi health centre [in the camp]. Getting the drugs was quite easy because I walked a short distance to the health centre at Lalogi every two weeks.

"Now it has become very difficult, because I left the camp and moved back to my village, so I have to walk 24 kilometres every two weeks to get the drugs.

"I am not alone; there are also other women in my village walking a long distance to get the drugs. I walk so many hours and get tired by the time I reach the health centre, so I sleep at a friend's home in the camp and go back home the following day.

"My husband has missed his drugs; he said he has given up walking the long distance to get his ARVs and he has resorted to drinking alcohol. He drinks alcohol every day, and said he waits for his day to die. I can't get his ARVs - the doctors say my husband should come for them personally.

"I am worried if my husband dies because we have five children - no one will help me take care of the children.

"I pray to God so that a health centre is brought nearer to our village to help HIV positive people in the area."



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

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