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    Member voices: Virtual Pathways leading Africa's fight against HIV / AIDS.

    Urdaneta C

    HealthLink. 2004 Oct 1; (129):[3] p..

    “My mother, stop lying to me. You think I don't know my father is dying of AIDS?" It was 1996, and 10-year old Samwel challenged his mother Elsa to accept a harsh reality as his classmates, teachers, and neighbors listened to a discussion rarely conducted in public. Samwel did not care - he could not be silenced. Just 10 years old, his words weighed heavily on his mother, who had recently found out she was HIV-positive, like her husband: "I left perplexed and traumatized. He helped me decide to tell my family." Their story is not an uncommon one in Africa: A dying husband and father, a wife and mother infected by him, children to care for, and a questionable future. But Elsa Ouko is no ordinary woman. A brief conversation between a mother and her son became a turning point in their lives. Elsa and her family live near Eldoret, a small town in northwest Kenya where HIV is widespread, not unlike hundreds and thousands across the African continent. For the first time since finding out she was HIV-positive eight years ago, Elsa is ill. Despite this, she is quick to smile, her short hair framing her face on her slim, but not wasted, 48-year-old frame. Elsa thinks nothing to tell her story again, sitting next to her friend and colleague Margaret, who is also HIV-positive. Margaret is tall and heavy-set, helped by the antiretrovirals she uses most of her meager teacher's salary to purchase. Elsa, and millions like her, cannot afford the medicines. She is unemployed and has worked as a housewife for most of her life. Together, Margaret and Elsa talk passionately about a disease that kills 8,000 people worldwide every day - that is 353 deaths per hour, six every minute, and one every ten seconds - among them Elsa's husband. One thing is clear: they have turned a devastating diagnosis into a positive campaign to fight HIV/AIDS. (excerpt)
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