Linda Chabwe, 27, Living Positively

January 11, 2007

The biggest issues facing young people in Zambia are unemployment, boredom, and HIV/AIDS. As young people are the most productive group in society HIV has a big impact.

 

The solution is to promote condoms among youths rather than abstinence – they may be hearing the words but youths are not changing their behaviour as girls as young as 13 are having babies. Condoms are still stigmatised – people say ‘why would you eat a sweet with the wrapper on’.

 

I found out I was positive in 2002 after going for Voluntary Counselling and Testing. Before finding out I was positive I knew very little about HIV. When I found out my status I laughed…but soon became very depressed.

 

I felt like I was already dead. But I started taking action on HIV/AIDS in Chipata which helped. I am now a peer educator and an active member of the Network of Zambian People Living Positively.

 

I have had four children, the third was born HIV positive and died young, but my last born is now two and is HIV negative. I carefully followed all the precautions such as not breastfeeding so as not to pass on the virus.

 

A year ago Anti-Retro Viral drugs would have cost £60 for a course which barely anyone could afford, but the government has committed to provide them for free now. There are side-effects, but when people take them it improves their appetite. My CD4 count fell below 50 recently, I would be eligible for free ARVs with a count below 200 but haven’t taken them. I believe that a positive attitude and strong faith keeps me healthy.

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