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): Care/Treatment - PlusNews,

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