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 Tuesday 30 October 2007
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RWANDA: "We didn't take the medicine seriously and now I'm alone"

Photo: UNDP
KIGALI, 16 May 2007 (PlusNews) - Claude Nzabirinda, 45, is unemployed and raising five children on his own after his wife's death from AIDS-related complications. He spoke to IRIN/PlusNews about his family's decade-long struggle with HIV.

"During the 1994 tragedies [genocide] we sought refuge in Goma, in the [northeastern] Democratic Republic of Congo; my wife was six months pregnant at the time and gave birth to twins while we were there.

When we moved back to Rwanda in 1996, my wife fell ill - she was coughing a lot and had fever and diarrhoea. She recovered after a short period and gave birth to another child after a few months.

In 1997, after she got sick again, the doctor confirmed that my wife was HIV-positive; I should have done the test as well but I wanted to stay by her side to look after her.

In the hospital, she was prescribed medicines such as Bactrim [an antibiotic], but she feared the drugs and did not respect her regimen. She continued to be sick and developed many opportunistic infections.

In 2002, my wife passed away. I found someone to help with the baby, but she too died seven months after her mother.

We became very poor, since I was not working and our friends abandoned us, while poverty was dominating in our house. After this hard period, I went with my five children to Kigali [capital of Rwanda], where I found friends and relatives who agreed to take care of them while I carried on looking for a job.

Later in 2002, I started coughing and losing strength. When I went to see a doctor, he found that I was suffering from pancreas problems; several days later I tested positive for HIV.

I immediately started receiving free [antiretroviral] medication, and one month later my blood was tested and an improvement was observed. I also felt there was a change in my body.

For now, I do not have any plans to re-marry; I want to be able to take care of myself and my health, as well as my children."


Theme(s): (IRIN) Care/Treatment - PlusNews


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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.