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I am pregnant, shattered by my HIV status

By Vision Reporter

Added 30th January 2007 03:00 AM

Dear Doctor,
I am seven months pregnant. When I went for a blood test, I discovered I was HIV-positive. This has shattered my life. I do not know what I am supposed to do to save the baby and how I will breast-feed. I do not know whether I should start taking ARVs immediately because I have not

Dear Doctor,
I am seven months pregnant. When I went for a blood test, I discovered I was HIV-positive. This has shattered my life. I do not know what I am supposed to do to save the baby and how I will breast-feed. I do not know whether I should start taking ARVs immediately because I have not

Dear Doctor,
I am seven months pregnant. When I went for a blood test, I discovered I was HIV-positive. This has shattered my life. I do not know what I am supposed to do to save the baby and how I will breast-feed. I do not know whether I should start taking ARVs immediately because I have not shown any signs of AIDS and I look healthy. The hospital says I should go for a CD4 count first.

What is CD4 count? Which person living with AIDS has ever lasted longer and how many years did they live?  Can I last for more than 20 years?
Sylvia

Dear Sylvia,
Sorry about the difficult time you are going through. It is normal to react that way to such bad news. That is why we in HIV/AIDS care, encourage pre and post-test counselling whenever one goes for an HIV test.

Most of the questions you are raising could have been answered if a competent HIV/AIDS counsellor with good counselling skills had handled you.

You need support counselling to help you go through this turbulent time. The advice you got from hospital is good because you should not just start on ARVs.

You need to have a CD4 count first. CD4 cells are special cells in our bodies, which help us fight the diseases that attack us.

So by measuring the CD4 cells, we are able to know how much damage HIV has done to one’s immune system so that we can either start treatment with ARVs or not.

About your baby, there are measures that can be taken to protect it from contracting HIV, for example by starting you on ARVs early enough, if your CD4 is low or if you viral load is high.

The viral load test shows how active HIV is in your body. If your CD4 is still high and your viral load is low, you can be given a tablet of nevirapine to swallow at the onset of labour as a measure to prevent mother to child transmission.

If you are in Kampala or within a 60kms radius of Kampala you can come to The Mildmay Centre at Lweza and you can have all the above-mentioned tests and services done for free.

About how long you can live, no one except God knows. However, I can tell you that HIV/AIDS, if handled well, is no longer an immediate death sentence for anybody.

I have lived with HIV for over 21 years, but because I have been on ARVs for the last six years, my quality of life is quite good.


Send your question on HIV to Health Editor, The New Vision.
P. O. Box 9815, Kampala or
health&beauty@newvision.co.ug

I am pregnant, shattered by my HIV status

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