HIV is ‘no death sentence’


LIVING with HIV is not a death sentence like most people think, Kylie Nelson (pen name) says.
Nelson first found out she was HIV positive in 2008 when she was 17-years-old and in Grade 10.
She contracted the virus from her boyfriend who was attending a university then.
When she told him it was too late because he had already moved on with another woman.
She was so depressed and wanted to commit suicide.
Her depression affected her education. She did not complete her secondary education, although she was offered a place at Aiyura National High School in Eastern Highlands. After she came to know of Igat Hope Inc, the national organisation for people living with HIV and AIDS in PNG, everything changed for her.
She was given counselling and put on anti-retro viral therapy drugs (ART) to maintain normalcy in her life.
She is now happily married with three kids aged between one and seven.
Her husband and children are HIV-negative.
Nelson, 27, has been on ART for nine years. She is thankful to the Government, non-governmental organisations and churches who are providing the drugs for free in the country.
“Papua New Guineans are privileged to have the Government paying for their medication unlike in other countries where people living with HIV and AIDS are paying for the ART drugs themselves,” Nelson said.
“The ART drugs prevent negative partners from contracting the virus.
“And it also prevents children from getting infected too.
“There were side effects, like change of skin colour and all that but in order for me to remain fit and live longer to see my children grow, taking my medication faithfully is the best thing to do.”
She believes that living with HIV is not a problem because life must go on and we must continue to live.
She does her daily activities like any other normal person; dropping her kids off at school and going to work.
“I came here and learnt alot about HIV, the treatment, its advantages and how to maintain a normal life.
“I know how the medication works, what is treatment and to adhere to it (treatment).”
Nelson is living a very positive life and is urging everyone to be faithful to their partners to stop the spread of HIV.
“I am encouraging those who have multiple sexual partners to get tested,” she said.
“If tested positive you will be put on ART drugs.
“If their result comes out negative then the counsellors will share with you necessary information on how to be safe and avoid contracting the virus.”
Nelson also appeals to everyone to be cautious during this election period because it is a time when people will be moving about and money will be exchanged for sex.
With the aid of mobile phones and social media like Facebook sex is no longer a hidden topic, everyone is talking about it.
“If you want to have sex, nobody is stopping you.
“The important thing is to use protection and stay safe.
“If you feel or suspect that you are not okay, get tested and get treated.”

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