A Tanzanian Couple Faces HIV Together With Hope
Samsoni and Flora Kanyegeli have three children, Bernard, age 12, Aiden, age 6, and their newborn, Brian. The couple, youthful, energetic and full of affection, was married in 1998 and the family currently lives in a single rented room. Samsoni is a driver at the Catholic Mission and Flora tends to the kids and the home. The family has been coming to the Ngarenaro Health Clinic since 2000 for maternal health and HIV and AIDS services.
Flora: I came to the clinic for services while I was pregnant. I was advised to be tested when I was 4 months pregnant, and during post-test counseling I learned that I am HIV positive. I was really shocked, I didn’t expect it as me and my husband have been very faithful to each other. I didn’t know what to do. I was confused, scared. I knew that it was the end of my life, but the provider continued to counsel me and to give me hope and I came to accept my results. The counselor insisted that I bring my husband to the clinic for HIV testing too.
I told my husband to come to the clinic for health information regarding my pregnancy and my baby. I did not tell him that I was tested for HIV. Samsoni came to the clinic and was counseled for HIV testing alone. During post-test counseling, the provider encouraged us to disclose our results to each other. That’s when I learned Samsoni is negative and I am HIV positive. I was really scared. How could that happen? And what will Samsoni’s reaction be? But Samsoni did not panic at all.
Samsoni: I still love her so much. This is just a problem we have encountered.
Flora: I was really happy when my husband agreed to continue living with me as husband and wife. Because of ongoing support and follow-up counseling, my HIV status was easier to accept. I was informed about many good things by the provider: like how to live positively and the importance of nutrition. We were also advised on safe sex and condoms were provided to us. Samsoni has already been tested 3 times and each time he tested negative.
Before we left the facility, we asked the provider if we can call her when we have a problem or need support and she gave us her mobile phone number. She has been so supportive. Life would have been very difficult without her guidance.
Samsoni: Back home we continued with our normal life but it had become difficult for us to have sexual intercourse. My wife was still thinking she could transmit HIV to me. We came back to the facility and received supportive counseling. I am happy now that we have a normal life and we both enjoy our married life.
We are not planning to have another child—no, that is not what we want to do. During counseling for HIV, Flora was also counseled on family planning to decide which method to use after the baby was born. We are using condoms now.
My brother has 5 kids. I have 3 kids. For urban life, that is more than enough.
Flora continues to receive follow-up HIV services at the clinic for both herself and our baby Brian, who was exposed. She has started on Septrin [for prevention of opportunistic infections] and Brian is on Septrin syrup. He is doing fine, he is healthy.
We are both very grateful for the services here. We can get all the services at one place. Providers are very supportive, encouraging. They are not tired, even if you call them at home. You can come any time, call any time, and they will listen and respond to your needs.
This facility is among the 322 that benefit from technical and financial assistance from the ACQUIRE Tanzania Project (ATP), which is funded by the generous support of the American people through USAID.
Flora and Samsoni with their youngest child.