Kenya: Kenyan Family Sees "Shining Light" Through PEPFAR (March 2007)

When asked if they would share their story with workers for the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) Joyce and David enthusiastically stated yes. They wanted to share their story because of their deep appreciation for the life changing PEPFAR-supported services provided for their family - what David now refers to as his "shining light in the world." They hope that by sharing their story, more families will seek HIV testing and support services.

Joyce, 27, and David, 29, live in a secluded village in rural Kenya with their two children Emmanuel, 10 months old, and Kipyegon, 9 years old. When Joyce was four months pregnant with Emmanuel she was surprised to learn she was HIV positive. Joyce and David had been attending couples counseling at the Kericho District Hospital Prevention of Mother-to-Child HIV Transmission (PMTCT) clinic, supported by PEPFAR, when he suggested she be tested. What Joyce was unaware of at the time was that David was also HIV positive.

After Joyce tested positive, the PMTCT counselor, with David's permission and in his presence, disclosed David's HIV status to Joyce. David, who had been ill on several occasions, had sought voluntary HIV counseling and testing services through a mobile counseling and testing program sponsored by the District Hospital.

Empowered with the knowledge of their HIV status, Joyce and David began taking steps to live a healthy and positive life. As part of the PMTCT program, Joyce received education regarding the importance of positive living, good nutrition, future use of single dose nevirapine for her and her infant, and the option of breast milk replacement feeding to help prevent infection after her infant was born. Fortunately, Joyce discovered during further testing that her HIV did not require additional antiretroviral therapy (ART). David, however, had advanced HIV (a critically low CD4 count of 33) and required ART.

Through continued follow-up and care at the PMTCT clinic, Emmanuel was born HIV negative. Joyce and David also had Kipyegon tested and learned he is HIV negative. Joyce continues to monitor her HIV and has not required treatment. After a year of ART, David has gained weight, feels healthy, and has a CD4 count of 152.

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