Baby gives me hope

    It was hard enough being HIV-positive and Asian when I discovered I
    was pregnant last year. What shame this would be to my family back
    home in Kenya. It wasn’t difficult to decide whether I was going to
    keep the baby. I knew I had to; it was the best news I had had in a
    long time.

    I started taking medication to prevent my baby being infected with
    HIV, decided I would have a caesarean and I would not breastfeed.
    Now my baby girl is six months old and she has had two blood tests
    that show she does not have my antibodies. Her final test will be
    when she is 18 months.

    Although I was not on HIV medication before I became pregnant, now
    I am and I take it daily. It is difficult to remember to take it
    when all my time is spent looking after my daughter but I know I
    have to be healthy and keep well because her little life depends on
    me. She has only me and I must do my best to look after and provide
    for her.

    When I was pregnant my baby’s father never supported me and he
    doesn’t support me now. It took me a long time but I had to get out
    of the relationship because he was violent and abusive. My
    self-confidence was at an all-time low when I was with him. The
    shame of it is that it took me having the baby without him to make
    me realise I would not let him do to my baby what he did to me. I
    realise that my being HIV-positive does not prevent me having
    relationships with men when it hasn’t stopped me having a healthy
    and beautiful baby girl.

    I feel I can be successful in doing anything I want as long as I
    believe in myself. The only time I get a bit down is when I don’t
    get a good response from my social worker or counsellor. I do need
    to feel that there are people there to help me when I need it. A
    little compassion from them can go a long way for someone like me
    who has been vulnerable and, at times, distressed.

    Nearly four years ago I ran away from the oppression from my home
    country and family. In Kenya I wasn’t able to do half the things I
    can do here in the UK. I can express myself, talk freely about my
    status and help others in the same situation. I have co-founded an
    ethnic minority support group called Monsoon, where other
    HIV-positive women can feel free to be themselves and open their
    hearts without being judged.

    The best thing for me now is my baby girl. The support I get from
    friends and organisations has been invaluable. Although my
    ex-boyfriend was born here he still has a problem talking about his
    HIV status and used to tell me I should not discuss it either. If I
    wanted that sort of denial I would have stayed in Kenya where HIV
    is still taboo. Yes, I am single, HIV-positive, Asian and a proud
    mum. I believe that one day I will meet someone who will love me
    and my baby unconditionally.

    Salima Jivani is HIV-positive and a single parent

    More from Community Care

    Comments are closed.