Couple stands strong in face of HIV/AIDS
Alice Maka, 38, lost two children a few weeks after delivery. This disturbed her, leading her to seek medical support at a local medical facility.
“We strongly believed in our traditional beliefs and I did not register for Antenatal services. This was what led to the death of my two infants. If I had gone to hospital, I could have saved them,” says Maka, in deep thought.
Due to the culture of trusting traditional birth attendants, she did not go to hospital. “I delivered the children at home, and I often became ill. I went to Mushota Health Centre after a community volunteer urged me to do so,” says the mother of seven, at Mumpempa Village, Kawambwa District, in Zambia.
Maka and her husband, Job Chama, tested positive to HIV/AIDS in 2013. “My wife and I faced a lot of discrimination after we became open about our status. In some instances, we were treated like outcasts,” explains Chama, 54.
The couple was provided with information about Elimination of Mother-to-Children Transmission (EMTCT) by AAH Zambia. “I frequently went to the health facility and the services helped me to conceive and deliver two children who are HIV negative,” she says of the children, aged one and two years. The EMTCT services enable an expectant mother not to transmit the HIV virus to her unborn child; after the woman is put on drugs.
Maka and Chama say for almost one year after they tested HIV positive many people waited for them to die. “We decided to be strong and prove that one can positively live with HIV/AIDS. The stigma and discrimination did not deter us from living a normal life,” says Maka. They are farmers, who concentrate on cassava-growing on their one-acre piece of land.
Community-Led Prevention Initiative (COPI) is being run by AAH Zambia in Kawambwa District. The project supports interventions on Antenatal Care (ANC), family planning, reproductive health messages, teenage pregnancies.
The project started in 2014 and has far supported 10, 000 couples to make right choices about ANC.