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DRC-UGANDA: Florence Karungi*, "I would probably let myself die, but I have to do this for my children"

Photo: Caterina Pino/IRIN
At the Kyaka II camp, in southwestern Uganda, HIV-positive refugees often face discrimination
KYAKA II, 30 March 2010 (PlusNews) - Florence Karungi *, 30, fled rebel violence near her home in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in 2006 and has lived with her three children at Kyaka II Refugee Camp in southwestern Uganda ever since. When she became pregnant in 2009, she found out she was HIV-positive. Her husband abandoned her and the children upon learning of her status. She spoke to IRIN about her experience:

"I came here from North Kivu Province with my husband and our two children. When I got pregnant, the doctor asked me to do an HIV test. I thought it was not necessary. I was married for years, why would I be HIV-positive?

"When the results came a few days later I was shocked. I didn't know much about HIV other than if you have it, you are going to die. I went back home and told my husband about my status. He was furious, we had a fight and after that he left. I have no idea where he is now.

"All I know is that I gave birth to our third child two days ago and he doesn’t even know about it. I wonder if he even cares. If he did, he would have looked for the other two children; he never has since the day he left us.

"Since finding out my HIV status, I enrolled in the counselling programme in the camp. I go there once a week. It helped, I think. At least now I know I am not the only person going through this and that I should not be ashamed of it.

"If you are HIV-positive you are stigmatised in your community. I lost many friends. People just don’t talk to me, and they don't care that maybe it is not even my fault if I got sick. I am very angry as I still cannot understand how that could happen. My only partner was my husband.

"The doctors told me to follow the prevention of mother-to-child-transmission programme for my new-born. In six months, we will know if he is HIV-positive as well or not.

"This is the only thing I can do to maybe save my son's life. I am taking [life-prolonging antiretroviral drugs] ARVs myself. I need to be as healthy as possible. If I were alone, I would probably let myself die, but I have to do this for my children."


*Not her real name

Theme(s): HIV/AIDS (PlusNews), Refugees/IDPs,

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

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