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 Sunday 28 October 2007
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ETHIOPIA: Almaz Hailu, Ethiopia, "My husband told me his ARVs were vitamins"

Photo: Manoocher Deghati/IRIN
Almaz sometimes works in a market to support her children
ADDIS ABABA, 23 August 2007 (PlusNews) - Almaz Hailu*, 35, is an HIV-positive widow living with an aunt and struggling to raise two young children in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital.

"Three years ago, I started to see my husband taking pills every night after dinner. I did not question him for a while, but I became more suspicious and worried about him when he did it regularly. One night, I asked him if he is in good health. He persuaded me that he was overloaded with work and the doctor prescribed him a vitamin to give him liveliness.

"I admitted that I was also losing energy and getting tired, and asked him if I could share his 'vitamin'. He warned me that it was not good for a woman's health - I believed him.

"Three years later, he got very sick and was admitted to a hospital. On the second day of his admission, the doctor approached me and advised me to get tested for HIV. I almost collapsed and refused to accept the doctor's suggestion.

"I kept telling the doctor that I do not need to be tested since I had never slept with anyone else except my husband. It did not occur to me that he was the one who was sleeping around.

"The doctor insisted [on the HIV test] and I found out about my status. I collapsed, and when I woke up the doctor informed me that I could live for years if I start taking the ART [antiretroviral therapy]. From then on, I have been on ART.

"My husband confessed that he knew his status for three years and did not tell me, fearing that our family and neighbours would discriminate against us. He said the fact that the HI virus is sexually transmitted shamed him.

"My husband died shortly afterwards and everything changed for my family from that day on. He was the breadwinner, so now I am burdened to provide food for my children. Thanks to a widowed aunt, I am now sharing a small room with my two children.

"I have no education; the only thing I can do is domestic work. Whenever I have the energy I help my aunty at her market stall, and also do some domestic work in our vicinity.

"Until I die, I have committed myself to send my children to school, because I do not want them to go through what I have been through just because they are not educated."


*Not her real name

Theme(s): (IRIN) Care/Treatment - PlusNews, (IRIN) Gender - PlusNews, (IRIN) PWAs/ASOs - PlusNews, (IRIN) Stigma/Human Rights/Law - PlusNews


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