“You are now getting married for the second time,” said Dr. Mohamed Osmani, an HIV/AIDS specialist at Mbagathi District Hospital in Nairobi, Kenya to his patient, Harriet. “First, you married your husband. Now you are marrying your ARVs. Are you ready to make that commitment?”
Harriet nods. “For how long?” the doctor asks.
“For the rest of my life,” she responds.
Four weeks ago, Harriet found out she was pregnant with her first baby –- and that she is HIV positive. She was not surprised, she says. She was shocked. She was also concerned for her husband who tested negative. She is worried she may have infected him. She is frightened for their child. She’s also nervous since this is the first day of this “second marriage” and she has just been told what to expect. Nausea. Yellow eyes. Skin rash. Perhaps some fever.
She’s 24 years old and traveled two hours in an overcrowded matatu for her appointment. Her husband found the hospital for her after inquiring with everyone he knew how he could help his wife get treated with ARVs funded through PEPFAR and the Global Fund.
The doctor examines her and feels her baby moving, lets her listen to its heartbeat. For the first time she smiles.