HIV Positive with Hope

HIV Positive with Hope

Frackson Machilika and Grace Bonongwe

Grace Bonongwe is a grandparent. She comes from Zovuta Village T/A Nsamala in Balaka, about 10 kilometers from the nearest health facility. Of the nine children she has given birth to, only one lives to this day. The rest have died over the years from different diseases.

Grace is no stranger to disease and affliction considering she has gone through the pain of losing eight of her children. So when her husband fell ill, she dismissed it as a normal occurrence that would eventually lead to his demise. But he did not die, instead, his illness recurred on and off for a prolonged time.

The USAID-funded, Management Sciences for Health-led Community-Based Family Planning and HIV and AIDS Services project started rolling out community based services in Balaka in July of 2008. Frackson Machilika was one of the community-based distribution agents that had been trained by the project. Zovuta village was one of the villages he was supposed to cover and he started providing information on family planning and HIV and AIDS services through community meetings and home visits.

Grace attended one of his meetings. Afterwards, she invited him to her house to hear more about HIV and AIDS. Frackson visited her after the meeting. She said to him:

At that meeting, you said some things that made me think twice; it’s my husband. He has been sick on and off for a while; do you think this might be related to what you were talking about at that meeting?

After receiving counseling and more information on HIV and AIDS, Grace decided to get tested. She was HIV positive. Though convincing her husband to take the test was difficult, he eventually decided to travel the long distance to the health centre where he got tested. He was found HIV positive. Frackson referred both of them to the health facility where, upon undergoing further tests, they were found to be eligible for enrollment on the National ARV treatment programme. Both Grace and her husband have been on ARVs for close to two years now. They live a healthy and revitalized life. Grace said:

Without this HTC/CBDA in this community, surely we would have died by now. Look we are healthy, and we are cultivating in our field more than others in this village. These CBDAs should really continue giving us services.

Chimwemwe Msukwa is Monitoring and Evaluations Officer for the USAID-funded, Management Sciences for Health-led Community-Based Family Planning and HIV and AIDS Services project.