I AM a teenage mother who has been facing many obstacles. However, those obstacles were not as harsh as the one I have been fighting since March 2011. I found out then that I was infected with HIV, which created a feeling of misery in my life. After learning about this, it was like the whole room began to spin, and I felt the baby in my belly tremble.
It was as if my daughter could feel my anger and disappointment. At the time, I was already facing questions such as where my next dinner would come from, and how could I afford the next bus fare to the clinic. These became a problem because I had run away from home, when I found out I was pregnant, and moved in with a gentleman who I thought was the father of my unborn child.
After going to the clinic for a month, I did two blood tests, and received the results of only one at that time. Soon problems started to occur in the home in which I was staying.
A day after some arguments, I was admitted at Victoria Jubilee Hospital suffering from asthma and I met a friend who helped me through my time there. I was in hospital for three days. We exchanged phone numbers, and I was invited to a church service. On leaving the hospital, I needed somewhere to stay. She put me in touch with her aunt, who agreed that I could stay at her house, as long as it was necessary.
No bed of roses
Life was not a bed of roses there either, because she was also facing similar financial problems. I started going to church with her, and confided in her about my life story. She was also the first person I told about my HIV-positive status, because I had no one else nearby to speak to. She tried to calm me down and helped me to realise that it was not the end of the world. Then I immediately called my mentor, and told her about my situation. I am sure she was as shocked as I was, but nevertheless, she stood by my side.
After going to the clinic three times, I did a viral load test and found out that it was very low. The doctor had previously advised that if it was low I would be put on medication for life. At first, it was very hard to swallow the pills because I had a mindset that I was going to die anyway, so why bother. But then, I began to learn more about the virus and realised that I could live successfully with it. In three months' time I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl who melted my heart and made me want to live.
I am a single mother because, due to my HIV status, my first partner went into denial. If it was not for some special people in my life - like my mentor, my biological family and my family at the Eve for Life support group - I would probably be dead by now. Since I have been part of this group, I have experienced significant growth in my self-esteem and character. I have met many persons in a similar situation at Eve for Life, where I have realised that being HIV-positive does not mean that I am not a normal person.
Yes, I sometimes worry about what I am going to say to my daughter when she is older, but I guess when that time comes the higher Supreme will give me the words, and help me to be strong.
So far, my daughter has been tested twice, and the first result was negative. I pray for another negative result while I await the results of the second test. I can assure you that as a young teenage mother living with HIV, it is not easy. So, if you are a teenager who wants to explore and get answers to questions for yourself, as I did, at least, do me this favour: think, read and act according to what you think is right. Despite the support I have from various people, I know I have to find me, and make an effort to build me, by myself, for myself, and for my daughter.
The above article is made possible through support from UNAIDS Project Acceleration Fund, UNESCO and UN Women. We welcome comments and feedback from other teenage mothers. You can send these to email@example.com.