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“I told my parents immediately — I needed support from my family”

Personal story of a mother with HIV from Samara oblast

I’m 34 years old. I live with my daughter in a one-room apartment in Samara. My daughter is two years old. Now I’m very sick — I was just discharged from the hospital and I still don’t feel well — so my daughter is temporarily living with my parents in the country.

I found out I had HIV in May 2016. I contracted it from a man I was in a relationship with at the time. It was very unexpected and difficult to accept. But with time, everything was somehow erased, and now I worry less.

I told my parents immediately — I needed support from my family. Not all of my girlfriends know. I can tell someone if I’m sure that they’ll accept it, but there are others that to this day I’m afraid to disclose my status to. In medical institutions I alert them to my diagnosis, though I receive basically all my treatment at the AIDS Center. But then I got to the hospital with low hemoglobin and there were no options: they gave me a blood transfusion and I had to stop my therapy temporarily. Everything was decided with the attending physician. The specialists were loyal to me and none of the doctors said even a bad word.

It was my first pregnancy and it went easily. I knew about mother-to-child transmission. I was afraid, of course, but I received therapy and somehow it went easily. They did the first analysis in the maternity hospital and my PCR test was negative. I knew that I could not breastfeed and immediately prepared: I bought special pills to stop my milk production. At home I said that my milk didn’t come in. Everyone accepted it without issue. Well, my mother already knew about my HIV diagnosis, so I didn’t have to lie to her. At the OB/GYN I learned that I could register to receive baby formula. They also told me at the AIDS Center and explained what documents I needed. I knew what to prepare for. I got my daughter’s documents, at the children’s polyclinic they wrote a prescription, and then I came to the AIDS Center with the documents and prescription and received the formula. There were no difficulties. However, the supply lasted for four months maximum. After that we bought it with our own money. You can’t make it last six months, as much as you wish. I would like for them to provide more formula, ideally for up to a year.

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