Dear Aunt Silvia,
I am a young single mother of two, and have been taking care of my extended family. One of my aunt lost her husband to HIV/AIDS five years ago, but has since refused to admit that she is also infected even though the symptoms are there for all to see, and is always suffering from the opportunistic diseases.
Her health is deteriorating very fast yet she has eight very young children.
I advised her to go and see the doctors so that she can be put on medication but she is still head strong and denying her status.
Please, help me because I know if she dies I will be forced to carry the luggage of raising up her children yet I am overwhelmed with my own responsibilities.
It is not easy for anybody to accept that they might be infected with HIV even though people living with HIV/AIDS are less stigmatised these days and drugs to help them survive longer are available.
Drugs are given out free of charge, like nursing mothers are also given free supplies of baby formula so that they can feed their children with this milk which is a substitute for breastfeeding in case the baby is not infected then he/she can be saved.
I have known men who give up the fight of living once they are diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, but rarely do women give up the fight.
This is because a woman will always fight to live on for the sake of her children.
I am even more surprised that your aunt is losing the battle willingly when she has so many kids to care for.
Have you asked her who will take care of those children, knowing that their mother’s death could have been delayed?
It is time you be very honest with her, tell her the consequences of her death, and what will happen to her children when she is gone and the fact that no one is willing to take care of them.
Tell her that you are only willing to help her if she does herself and her children a favour of seeing a doctor so that she can be assisted.
It is easier to help her when she is around taking care of her own children, than you living with the whole team under one roof.
I don’t know why you are dilly dallying with an adult and wasting a lot of time in the process, you need to act fast and take her to the hospital even if it means you get policemen to escort you and also involve other family members.
But also remember that if a person is not willing to be helped, you can do very little.
You can also seek help from an experienced counsellor, even if it means you get a counsellor who is living with HIV/AIDS to counsel and give her a testimony of her life, because for many people seeing, is believing.
In the meantime, you can give your aunt the following advice before she gathers courage to see a doctor; if she has to engage herself in sexual acts then tell her to practice safe sex to protect herself from re-infection and STD’s- otherwise it is much better if she does not engage in sex at all, she needs to save that energy to keep her going, she also has to eat healthy food – fresh vegetables and fruit.
To exercise regularly if she can, and to get enough rest. Last but not least smoking and drinking is a complete no-no for her.