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Living with AIDS in Uganda

Photographer: Cristina Vazquez

 

Behind the sad expression of Nakisozi Mastulah, she has every reason to see some positives in her HIV affected life ahead. Widowed at 28 in 2005 when her husband died of aids, the now 37 year old Uganda woman was tested the same year and found she was also HIV positive with a high CD4 count. Compounding her personal life problems was the negative attitude of her local community which prevented her children playing with other youngsters in the fear that they would be infected. But from these dark days emerged a gleam of light that pushed her to start a group with other HIV positive residents to enlighten the community about their disease.

 

Mastulah's group has now 457 registered members, however they are not all active as it is voluntary work. This women-led initiative has its weekly meetings at the property of the local council chairman of their community, where they make note-books, mosquito-repellent candles, bake cookies and cakes that they sell afterwards in the local shops to get a small profit in order to pay back their loans and to cover the costs of HIV-related expenses.

 

Sub-Saharan Africa alone accounts for an estimated 69 per cent of all people living with HIV (and 70 per cent of AIDS deaths in 2011) and in both rural and urban areas of low-income countries, millions of the most vulnerable people lack access to safe domestic water, making them more susceptible than other groups. They are more exposed to infections that can be difficult to eradicate and could hasten the progression of HIV to AIDS, resulting in premature death. Therefore the provision of clean water is crucial in HIV care and treatment programs like infant feeding, HIV positive babies or anti-retroviral (ARV) therapy which is better obsorbed if patients use clean water. But thanks to a Swiss non-profit organization ‘myclimate’ there is a water purific.