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“With this diagnosis the attitude is completely different”

Personal story of a mother with HIV in Sverdlovsk oblast

I’m 29 years old. I live in Ekaterinburg with my husband and two children. My daughter is 7 years old and my son is 3 years old.

I found out about my diagnosis by chance in 2009. My then-husband’s (now ex-husband’s) sister told me that he was sick. She said that I was brave to be living with him, knowing his status. My mother and I immediately went to the hospital. The test came back positive. I was put on the register, but I did not receive treatment.

My close friends and family know about my diagnosis, but I do not disclose it to everyone. Very few people are well aware of this disease and the reaction can vary. Unfortunately, I have encountered negativity. In the hospital I speak about my status carefully, if there is the chance of contact with blood or needles. With this diagnosis the attitude is completely different.

Currently I’m expecting my third child. My middle son was born completely healthy. I found out immediately in the gynecology office that I would not be able to breastfeed. I was very upset that I could not experience this contact with my child. A doctor at the AIDS Center and peer counselors told me more details about feeding.

My husband’s relatives and many people around me did not know about my status. I had to make up a story that after the C-section, I took antibiotics and my milk supply went away.

Once a month I made an appointment at the children’s polyclinic, stood in line and got a referral for baby formula. There wasn’t enough. Since you can’t give different types of formula, we looked for the right brand. The kind of milk they gave out at the polyclinic didn’t suit my son, so we had to buy formula and it cost a lot. At the store, one can cost 1100 rubles and it would last for a few days. We would take the formula anyway and exchange it with other moms over social networks.

I knew that I could get formula as a replacement for breast milk due to the experience of my previous pregnancy. They reminded me again at the AIDS Center. Overall, I was satisfied with the system for receiving it. But they should provide formula in greater quantity, considering we cannot breastfeed at all, and the choice of formula should be individual.

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