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Interview 47

Age at interview: 30
Age at diagnosis: 29
Brief Outline: H47 is currently on nevirapine and Combivir with few side-effects. Attending a number of support groups is a good way for her to gain information, network and get training. (Video and audio clips read by an actor.)
Background: A 30 year old woman who came to the UK from Africa after her husband died in 2004, but became ill and was diagnosed with HIV.

More about me...

Age at interview' 30

Age at diagnosis' 29

Sex' Female

Background' A 30 year old woman who came to the UK from Africa after her husband died in 2004. She became ill and was diagnosed with HIV a year ago.

Outline' A 30 year old woman who came to the UK from Africa after her husband died in 2004, but became ill and was diagnosed with HIV after her sister (a health professional) suspected it might be HIV. She is currently on nevirapine and Combivir with few side-effects. She has found that attending a number of support groups is a good way to gain information, network and get training. Her Church has undertaken to educate members about HIV, and this has helped her to feel more accepted, although she is still very cautious about telling others about her HIV. Her family members are health professionals, and this has helped her to disclose to them. Nevertheless, like others in her situation, she finds it very stressful waiting to hear about her immigration application. She dreams of being able to contribute to UK society as a case-worker helping people with HIV.

(Video and audio clips read by an actor.)

 

Keeping abreast of new HIV information helps her to cope. (Read by an actor.)

Keeping abreast of new HIV information helps her to cope. (Read by an actor.)

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And normally information changes from time to time, and maybe there is certain information that you need… depending on your, maybe things like, how you adhere to your drugs. Drug resistance and things. And all the other research that is coming up. 

So you need to keep abreast of what is happening. So as to cope with your own condition. 

 

Talks about how HIV was dealt with in her church, and how it began to shift attitudes and stigma....

Talks about how HIV was dealt with in her church, and how it began to shift attitudes and stigma....

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And they (the church) were talking about one membership with… one church with about 25% membership are infected. The other church was about 70%. And the other churches they don't know, but they know that some people in there are infected. So they said how long are we going to keep quiet?

To begin with people were, some people didn't want to be involved, they didn't want, didn't want to be part of it. But after discussions and after the workshops, we then had a workshop, we were divided into groups, then we had a workshop running within the church for that afternoon… (that) were debating and discussing issues, how would you treat a member of the church if they're HIV? What would you do? 

Some people would say, 'I think they are promiscuous, I think they are cursed, I think they are evil', yeah. They said all sorts of ugly things. And then they (the facilitators) said, 'If you take yourself in the position, if it is you who was HIV positive, how would you want people to treat you?' 

Some people really found that, they really looked at themselves as people with, in this situation. And they got to appreciate what the people… how the people are living with HIV felt what they are going through. And they started turning back, and they were saying, 'It's quite unfortunate we didn't quite know what these people were going through.' 

So I think we have to stretch out a hand just like Jesus did. We have to love and to show love, to give them all the support that we can, and we want this programme to go on… At the end, end of, at the end of the day that was what was agreed on. 

And they said there were going to be programmes running from time to time on HIV, Aids within the church from that day. So they… and so there were psalms composed for the day and everything and the day went off perfectly well, yeah.

 

She faced multiple life problems including asylum seeking, lack of work and separation from her...

She faced multiple life problems including asylum seeking, lack of work and separation from her...

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I was trying to cope with settling here… trying to settle here. I had lost my husband. I was sick. I was stressed. I was… the world, everything around me was just… I had no job, I'd left my children back home. I had just my sister here who was… who was also, who was about to leave her husband. And things were just upside down. 

So my… I was kind of very stressed. I lost my appetite, so I lost my weight. When I got here I was about, around 65 kilograms. Then when I got onto treatment I went down to about 52 kilograms at one time yeah. Then it started picking up, right now I'm around 60… 

But my problem is on, I still have problems with settlement because I'm still trying to settle, I haven't completely settled… I'm not yet settled, I mean as far as immi… my immigration, I'm, yeah. I'm still working on my immigration because I'm still waiting for some documentation to come from back home so that my solicitors can work on. So that's still quite giving pressure on me.

 

She visits a number of HIV support groups and this helps her to get training, keep informed and...

She visits a number of HIV support groups and this helps her to get training, keep informed and...

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Yes and they also encourage us to try and go and do some of the training that is being offered like. Right now when I came into this country I was quite illiterate computer wise. So I just started doing my computer training levels 1, 2, 3… so I'm 3 weeks old going to college so far. 

So, that's part of what I am… I have benefited from joining these other groups. And the groups also come as a family. You, you… the more people you have, you have got now a, a horizon, a bigger, a wider horizon, diverse… So you've got a diverse… a whole group of people who you are connected to. You are very… we are well networked. 

So if you need information, you need something about other countries, about even your own country, anything you can always phone around and talk. And it's also good for… for support. Because sometimes you feel down and you don't feel like yourself. So if you talk to this one, I've got this problem, they can call you back, they can talk to you. Some can even advise you to go for counselling here and there so… It's, being a member of many groups is quite beneficial.

 

She was dealing with many problems on top of being in a foreign country. (Read by an actor.)

She was dealing with many problems on top of being in a foreign country. (Read by an actor.)

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Because at that time I was trying to cope with settling here… trying to settle here. I had lost my husband. I was sick. I was stressed. I was… the world, everything around me was just… I had no job, I'd left my children back home. I had just my sister here who was… who is also, who was about to leave her husband. And things were just upside down. So my… I was kind of very stressed. I lost my appetite, so I lost my weight. When I got here I was about, around 65 kilograms. Then when I got onto treatment I went down to about 52 kilograms at one time yeah. Then it started picking up, right now I'm around 60.

 

She is busy going to college, support groups and volunteering to help her friend. (Read by an...

She is busy going to college, support groups and volunteering to help her friend. (Read by an...

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I'm going to college and I try to, I'm help… I volunteer to help my friend take her children to school. And I take them to school, sometimes I bring them back home, I help them with their homework. Take them to the park. Yeah I try to keep busy, when they're at work, I'm there at home with the children. 

When they're in, if I'm going out to some other organisations where I have to go for the support groups, I go out, they remain in with the children. So we kind of support each other, help each other. And I kind of keep myself busy and when I'm going to school, I leave the children in school, If I'm going to school I come and pick them up. 

So I kind of… I'm kind of on a, a busy programme. And I do a bit of knitting as well. And I do a bit of hair braiding.

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