Linda's Story

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Linda has a sweet face and an easy smile, but her smile disappears quickly when she starts to talk about giving medicines to her 12-year-old son.  Moses has HIV, and he has been taking medicines to keep his HIV virus quiet for many years. Like many growing children with HIV, Moses is beginning to ask questions.

"Mum, why do you keep on giving me medicine even though I am not sick?" he says. "For how long will I take the drugs?"

Sometimes, Linda answers simply: "Just take the medicines. One day, I will tell you or I will take you to the doctor to tell you."

Linda is taking these same medicines, and it makes her nervous when Moses calls attention to the medicines. When he keeps asking questions, she reminds him how he had a terrible rash when he first started taking these medicines. He had boils all over his body, and it was that rash that got Moses and his mother diagnosed with HIV. Today, Linda only tells him that these medicines will prevent him from getting a rash like that again.

Moses' questions worry his mother. "I am so stressed," she says. She worries that he will figure out that he has HIV, that he will tell other people, and that their neighbors will refuse to talk to them or to share food with them. She is worried that she will be forced to move away from the small, two-room house where she lives with her two sons. Linda has made these tight quarters a lovely little home, with chairs and a coffee table and lace covering each piece of furniture as well as the mud walls.

She becomes even more worried when she thinks of how old Moses is getting and how intelligent he is.

"He understands things. I can't keep quiet for too long," she admits. "But what do I say to a child like this?  How does one begin?  That is why I want help from the doctors."

And she has another big fear: "After he knows he has this HIV, he will keep asking.  He will want to know how he has gotten it. How can I tell him it comes from me, his mother?"

We're filming Linda's story to share with mothers just like her - mothers with secret fears and worry and stress. We hope Linda's story will help open other mothers and fathers to talking about how we can work through these fears and talk with their children about HIV.

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Posted at 04:53

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