Mary: "I want to continue living"

"I've started to hope again, and I've picked up things that I started doing before I found out that I was HIV-positive. I feel stronger today, I've got some energy back, I want to continue living ..."
"Walking is not a big sacrifice for me. It's true that I have to dedicate a whole day each week to going to hospital, but it's vital for me. "I found out that I was HIV-positive in July last year. I had come to the hospital because my five year old daughter was ill. They suggested I take the test. It was the third time - the first time I took it, I was pregnant and it was negative, then I did a second test a few months later. The result was a real shock to me because I wasn't ill, I didn't expect it at all. I was doubly affected because I also found out that my daughter was HIV-positive. But the MSF counsellor reassured me, and told me that treatment existed for the diseases that I might contract. "I thought about it all and I knew that I was going to die. So I started selling my things one by one, and I stopped going to work on the farm. I was waiting to die. "My daughter was also infected, so I had no reason to hope. She's my reason for living and as we no longer see her father, what would become of her if I died before her? "My mother is the only one who knows about my illness. My friends don't know and I don't want them to. I'm part of an association of people living with HIV/AIDS - with their help, I've started to consider talking about it, but I don't feel ready just yet. "Last month, the MSF doctor told me that I could be treated with ARVs, which would stabilise my illness and allow me to get back some strength. I didn't expect it, it was as much of a surprise as finding out I was HIV-positive. "I've started to hope again, and I've picked up things that I started doing before I found out that I was HIV-positive. I feel stronger today, I've got some energy back, I want to continue living and living well. Of course I will continue my treatment, for me it's not an effort but a great and unique opportunity. "Before, I used to have a little business. I knitted pullovers and sold them. I had stopped everything but I'm going to start again and I'll look for work on a farm so that I can have a fixed income. I also want to expand my home which I worked to build. "By going to the HIV Clinic in Thomas, I met this association of AIDS patients I mentioned before. They have helped me a lot and today, I really want it to develop and strengthen, so that we can talk about our experience and pass on our message. So that we and other HIV-positives can have a voice."