|Sharing experiences and learning how to live with HIV|
By Association Francois-Xavier Bagnoud (AFXB)
To her shock, one day Daw Tin Tin (not her real name) found out she was HIV positive. A 50 year old mother of four, she worked as a cleaner at a hospital in Yangon, and believed that her and her husband had always been loyal to each other. But after falling ill with a fever and a rash, she took a test and it confirmed her worst fears. She lost her job. She did not know how to cope with all those health and social problems. She was depressed and wanted to die.
A friend of Daw Tin Tin advised her to attend HIV/AIDS awareness session conducted by Association Francois-Xavier Bagnoud (AFXB). After some encouragement from the trainers, including some visits to her home, she joined the Sunday Empowerment Group (SEG) at 9th mile.
She started to share experiences with people living with HIV and learnt about self-care, positive living, personal hygiene and nutrition. At the SEG she learnt that she must have contracted HIV from her work at the hospital, as she used to wash the blood-stained floor and clothes, and collect used needles without any protection. Like her colleagues, she did not understand HIV transmission and she suggested that this information should be disseminated to other health care basic workers.
While having her CD4 tested at the project office about a month later, Daw Tin Tin found she also had TB. The HIV had suppressed her immune system and made it easier for her to contract other diseases. A doctor and nurse explained the dire consequences if she did not have treatment and urged her to visit a hospital, where they organized antiretroviral treatment for the HIV and anti-TB drugs. Her family members were also given counseling and together they helped her adhere to the treatment programme.
Now Daw Tin Tin physically and mentally fit, and leading her normal life again with her family and community. Through AFXB she is learning to generate a new income and she is working as a peer support worker at the Sunday meetings to share experience and provide moral support to others.