Mr. Wito Chavala who attends Allamano CTC says when his wife was pregnant with their third child in 2008 she lost a lot of weight. After the successful birth, she was every now and then ill. The child passed away three months after birth. Since she had recurring fever, she was then advised by one of the community volunteers to go to Allamano Health Centre to check her sero status where she was found HIV positive and then put on ARVs. “My wife advised me to go to check my health also but I refused,” says Wito.
He started falling sick every now and then, and his health deteriorated rapidly. Community health volunteers would advise him to go to a health centre, but Wito would refuse. “I used to threaten my wife with a divorce whenever she talked about counseling and testing.”
Wito says whenever community health workers went to advise them on the same he would threaten to attack them with either his machete or knives. “But they would never give up on me, “ he says. But when he became seriously ill with blisters all over his body and especially on his arms and legs to the extent that he had difficulties in walking he decided to see community health volunteers.
“In tears as I had unbearable pains I tried to go to the community health volunteers but I could not walk. The good thing is the volunteer, Zainab Zambo, did not give up on me. While I was thinking of going to see her she came in to try again to convince me to go to the facility only to find me more than ready to go for services,” says Wito.
He says few days after he was put on ARVs he started feeling better. Three months of care and treatment services managed to put him back on the road. “I am now back to my security guard job fending for my family. Knowing ARV benefits, I will never quit ARVs because they saved my life and they’ll continue to do so if I will be using them correctly,” Wito says.
Ms. Zainabu Mlwale, a single mother and a PLHIV on ARV, was put on ARVs in 2005 when she was pregnant. But in May 2006 she stopped using the drugs because she was busy with casual labour to fend for her child. She was also not using the ARVs because she didn’t want her lover to know that she was positive. In 2007, she started developing rashes and diarrhea. Her child got weaker each day and although she clocked one year, she could not stand. She then decided to go back to the centre and after one month the child was well again, and could stand. “With the wonders that ARVs have done to me and my child, I will never quit ARVs, they are life-saving,” she says.
Mrs. Emelita Mhanga was found HIV positive in 2007 and started using ARVs as her CD4 count was 166.
Although advised to go for a test, her husband refused to do so saying that HIV/AIDS is non-existent. Due to her husband’s pressure she stopped treatment in 2008 and her health deteriorated. Her husband got ill and lost his life to HIV/AIDS related complications in 2009. Soon after the death of her husband she resumed treatment and she is well now. “Thanks to ARVs, come rain or sun I will never default treatment,” says Emelita smiling.