Nakuya remembers how caring the counsellor who broke the news to her was.
PIC: Teo Nakuya shows her ARV drugs. Fortunately, her son tested negative for the HIV virus
TOWARDS ZERO | TEO NAKUYA
The death of her husband in 2001 left Teo Nakuya's life hanging in the balance.
"He fell sick and the doctors found TB. They gave him drugs until he finished the dose. He fell sick again and, this time, it was meningitis. He suffered for three months," she recalls. She nursed her husband until he passed away and soon feared that she might be HIV-positive.
Bravely, she went to Masaka Referral Hospital's TASO (The Aids Support Organisation) branch to check if she too was HIV-positive.
Nakuya remembers how caring the counsellor who broke the news to her was. She was HIV-positive.
She explained that at TASO, patients give all their details and since she did not have a mobile phone then, the counsellor came looking for her in Masaka and arrived at her house.
"He dilly-dallied, asking what I would do if I was found to be positive. I told him I would feel bad, but I would start taking the drugs. I told him to just say it, and he told me, ‘Olina akawuka' (you have the virus)," she said.
"I got so worried because I had a baby of four years and feared that I would not raise him," she recalls.
Nakuya was immediately given Septrine to swallow, but it affected her. She started falling sick with a fevers, getting sores, losing weight and her hair grew thin.
TASO then referred her to Uganda Cares, an organisation that provides drugs to HIV-positive people, and Nakuya began her journey with ARVs in August, 2003. Her CD4 count was then 77, which she says was low, compared to normal one at between 500 and 1,500.
"They gave me Nevirapine, but it also gave me side effects. I started vomiting and got diarrhoea, so I was treated. I remained weak and sickly for five years," she recalls.
A thought then crossed Nakuya's mind: What about her son? "I took my baby for a check and I was happy to discover that he was HIV-negative. He is now 18 and going to sit for his S6 exams at Kimanya Secondary School," she says.
Nakuya had been a teacher, but when she met her husband, he made her quit. After her died she had to earn a living somehow and embarked on rearing local chicken to sustain her son and herself.
Nakuya says she is living positively.
"In the beginning, it was not easy, but my parents supported me all the way. They used to visit us frequently and encouraged me. They told me I would live to raise my son. They really cared for me. God is good," she says.
Her attitude has also helped improve her viral load. She says the doctors have told her that her viral load is very low, almost undetectable.