My name is Joy, I am 32 years old, a mother to a handsome 4 year old boy and HIV positive. I live in Kampala, the capital city of Uganda. It all started about 8 years ago when after finishing university on the course of my first job, I met an older man who blinded me with material things and in return infected me with the virus. It was later, about 5 years ago, when on an antenatal (prenatal) visit when I was expecting my only child, I confirmed what I had all along suspected. It was a challenging time for me because without a support group to help me cope with discordance (serodiscordance), we separated with the father of my son. I am a very optimistic person and always try to look at the bright side of life and hope for the best, so accepting my condition was not very difficult. I had self counseled myself by then. The journey though hasn't been easy because out of emotions we make decisions that affect us greatly. I want to share my experiences with young women like me and let them know they are not alone.
When I found out that I had HIV while expecting my son, the only thought that crossed my mind was my unborn baby's health. I put everybody else behind and so I didnt disclose it to anyone, not even the father, because I knew how he would react. Making decisions on my own was not easy but because I knew what was at stake, I did everything in my power to achieve it. I convinced him that I should have a C-section and even later came up with all sorts of reason why I could not breast feed the baby. I even convinced him that we should have protected sex because I didn't want to get pregnant sooner. My sisters, it was then that I realised my strength. He later found out when our son was about 7 months old but I had been able to have an HIV free son and was ready to tell him then. Because of lack of knowledge on (sero)discordance we made rush decisions that we both regret now because we separated. I know better now and we are trying to put the pieces together, wish me luck!
Why Joy wants to be a part of A Girl Like Me: I have always loved to write and am thinking of encouraging girls like me out there. We all have challenges living with HIV and it's good to share these with others. I have been through a still birth, a miscarriage and a rejection from an HIV-positive partner because I was not giving him a child, but despite all this am still strong and yet hope to have another child someday.