“When I arrived in Kyangwali from the transit centre in Bundigugyo, I was helpless and had no hope for life. I thought I was dying any day since I already knew I was infected with HIV and TB [Tuberculosis] at an early age. But then the community outreach by AAH gave me new hope.”
At a community outreach visit in Kyangwali refugee settlement 12-year old Kunihira told an AAH Uganda HIV counsellor that she expected to die any day. Her father too despaired at his daughter’s chances of survival.
Kunihira appeared emaciated, depressed and disoriented. She had undergone substantial trauma in fleeing her home in the Democratic Republic of Congo for Uganda.
Despite being diagnosed with HIV she was not undergoing any form of treatment. Her lowered immunity had made her susceptible to HIV/AIDS-related diseases and she was suffering from diarrhoea, severe headaches, consistent fever, nausea and fatigue.
AAH staff referred Kunihira to the health centre for immediate medical attention. There she underwent counselling, clinical and nutritional assessments and blood tests. After her initial treatment she was enrolled in a nutrition program and began taking anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs to suppress the HIV virus and stop the progression of the disease.
HIV counsellors continued to visit Kunihira and her father every fortnight to promote drug adherence, good hygiene practices and good nutrition. Kunihira responded positively to the ARV drugs. She quickly started to regain her appetite and her health soon began to improve.
Ongoing home-based support and counselling from AAH has helped Kunihira adhere to her ARV treatment. Her CD4 cell count has increased and she no longer suffers from severe opportunistic infections. Nutritional support and regular health screenings are ongoing.
Nowadays, Kunihira is well enough to walk to the health centre to collect her ARVs on clinic days and is even able to help out at home fetching water and washing clothes. Her progressively improving health has given her a brighter outlook on the future.
By Ivan Kisekka William, HIV Counsellor.
*Name has been changed