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SOMALIA: Rahma Hirsi, Somaliland, "I will never tell my children I am HIV positive"


Photo: Casey Johnson/IRIN
HIV positive mother of three Rahma Hirsi, 29, holds the ARV drugs she receives at the Hargeisa Group Hospital in Hargeisa, Somaliland
HARGEISA, 22 August 2007 (PlusNews) - Twenty-nine-year-old Rahma Hirsi is trying to raise three children on her own following the death of her husband in 2006. She was diagnosed with HIV the same year and has been on antiretroviral (ARV) medication at Somaliland's Hargeisa Group Hospital since then.

"I first found out I was HIV-positive in January 2006.  I think I was infected by my husband, but I will never really be sure how I contracted the disease because my husband was killed in a car accident a few months after I was diagnosed, and he was never tested. What I do know is that my three children are HIV-negative.

"After I was diagnosed, I waited three months before coming to the hospital. I was in denial, I was afraid of being stigmatised, but I was also very sick with diarrhoea, so in the end my family brought me to the clinic.

"After going on the ARV medicine there was an improvement in my health. I had gone down to about 33 kilogrammes and over a three month period had gained about five kilogrammes. Along with my health, the best thing about the ARVs is that they have allowed me to keep working at the tea stall I run in downtown Hargeisa. For me this is the most important thing, because with their father gone, I am the only one supporting my children.

"To this day, my uncle and the staff at the hospital are the only people who know I am HIV-positive; I haven't told my children. Sometimes I talk to them about abstinence, but as long as I live I will never tell my children that I am HIV-positive."

cj/kr


Theme(s): (IRIN) HIV/AIDS (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.