Life is a Gift: HIV/AIDS in Kenya
By Shayne Moore – with the ONEMoms in Kenya
Meet Joyce. And her baby, Gift.
Joyce lives in rural Kenya and her story is the story of HIV/AIDS and malaria in this part of the world. Gift is Joyce’s fourth child. She gave birth to three other children, three beautiful girls. The first born, Faith, because Joyce had a hard time conceiving but had faith it would happen. The second born, Gloria, because Joyce loves God and wanted to give him the glory. Her third born, Victoria, because she was feeling victorious at this birth.
Faith died as an infant. She was six months old. Gloria made it until she was 1 1/2 before she also passed away. At the time, Joyce did not know what disease was taking her babies. This was in the late nineties. Joyce married a man much older than she. He became very very sick and decided to get tested for HIV. He was indeed positive and he broke this news to Joyce. Suddenly, Joyce suspected what had taken her daughters and went to get tested herself. Joyce was pregnant with baby number three.
Many things changed in Kenya between when Joyce had her first baby and being pregnant with her third. For starters, people had a name and a diagnosis to go with what was killing their families. In the five years things like PEPFAR and The Global Fund had started pumping money into the hardest hit global communities and started to provide the ARV’s — the life saving medicine for those who are HIV positive.
Joyce was HIV positive and pregnant. But now she had options and hope. Joyce went on medication and also took the pills that prevent mother to child transmission of the HIV virus. Her third baby girl was born HIV free. No wonder Joyce was feeling victorious! Victoria is living proof that HIV does not need to consume and destroy.
Gift is Joyce’s fourth baby and she is four months old. She is also HIV free and healthy. Joyce continues to take her medicine and her HIV viral counts remain low. She is a healthy and happy new mom.
Without the support of the global community and compassionate voices around the world, Joyce’s story might have been much different.
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Photo by ONeMoms in Kenya