GATSIBO — An Associations of People Living with HIV/Aids has been pointed out as an organisation that has restored hope for scores of HIV positive individuals in Gatsibo District.
A number of HIV positive individuals who have joined such groups in Mwulire Sector, say they have regained hope due to various outreach services by this organisation such as counselling.
The association has a membership of over 350 HIV individuals who receive different forms of assistance such as counselling and acquisition of retroviral drugs.
Cyprien Rwagapfezi says he has learnt to live positively ever since he joined the Association of People Living with the Virus. It has also helped him live harmoniously with his HIV negative wife.
“We went for blood test when my wife was pregnant, I then tested HIV positive, while my wife tested negative. My wife was so bitter with me, but she was later advised on how to handle the situation; we started using condoms to avoid infecting her. Thank God she even gave birth to a healthy baby,” Rwagapfezi narrates.
The father of four says when his partner learnt that she was HIV negative, while he was infected, it became difficult for her accept her status as she became worried of getting infected too.
But medics counselled them and they are now happily living together. He observes that in most cases it is men who are unfaithful to their wives, which is a very sad situation.
Rwagapfezi recalls that he may have contracted the virus while working from Uganda.
“I did not know about HIV/AIDS and had never thought that I could contract the disease. However, with the support I get from the association I am more confident of tackling the future like the rest of us. I am even ready to begin the ARV therapy soon as I got to know my status,” he asserted.
Petronille Mukarushema, another HIV positive individual says through the association, members are able to access financial support to set up income generating projects.
She received financial support which she has used to purchase a cow. She knew about her HIV status in 1999, after the death of her first husband, who kept his HIV status a secret.
“I did not know that he was infected, I learnt about it after his death when I went for his medical test results at University Central Hospital of Kigali (CHUK),” recalls Mukarushema.
Despite her HIV status, Mukarushema says, she was able to get another husband who was HIV negative meaning that after having produced a health baby, they live happily.