Name: Doris QuaynorCountry: GhanaAge: 38 years Work: SeamstressFamily: 1 child - Michael Kofi Acquah , 4 years old (HIV Negative due to PMTCT intervention)Treatment: On antiretroviral therapy
Overview of Doris' story:
Doris was diagnosed with HIV in 1998 and at the time ARVs were not widely available to individuals in Ghana. She started antiretroviral treatment in 2003 and due to ARVs and prevention of mother-to-child transmission intervention she delivered a HIV negative child in 2006. Doris now lives with her parents and is raising a healthy and thriving 4 year-old little boy. She is active in a support group and helping other HIV+ individuals accept their status and move forward with their lives.
When was Doris diagnosed with HIV?
Doris was diagnosed with HIV in 1998. At the time of Doris' diagnosis, treatment for HIV and AIDS was not widely available in Ghana. Now, thanks to Global Fund financed programs supported by (RED) funds, life saving antiretroviral medication (ARVs) is available in Ghana. Doris has been taking antiretroviral medication since 2003.
Did Doris face stigma in Ghana?
Yes, at the time of Doris' diagnosis, the stigma of diagnosis was even worse than it is today. HIV+ Ghanaians were forced to hide their status or deal with insults, discrimination and harassment. After she was diagnosed, Doris was harassed to the point that she had to move after her neighbors found out about her status. She is now living with her parents in a different village in Ghana.
Doris' PMTCT Story
Doris was on antiretroviral treatment for 3 years before becoming pregnant with Michael. She worked closely with a physician to monitor her CD4 count to make sure it was high enough to try to have a child. With continued monitoring Doris remained on her ARV medication and delivered Michael. After birth, Michael was also given doses of ARV medication specifically formulated for infants. Michael then was tested periodically until he was 1.5 years old. He is HIV negative and thriving.
Michael is now 4 years old and enjoys playing football (soccer) and dancing. He goes to school and enjoys his studies. Michael would like to be a soldier when he is older, but Doris would prefer for him to be a pilot.
About Doris and Michael now
Doris is now divorced and raising Michael as a single mother. They currently live with her parents outside of Accra. Michael is in school during the day and Doris is a skilled seamstress (note to reporter: Doris sewed the close she is photographed in).
Doris business has is currently doing well. She has two women that she is training and teaching how to sew.
Doris in the Community
Doris was one of the founding members of the Wisdom Association, a Global Fund financed support group in Ghana. She now serves as an advisor to the president of the organization. When Doris shares her story with newly diagnosed patients, she says "nobody should hide their status. Everyone can live well and for a long time with ARVs."
The Wisdom Association is a support group with approximately 230 members. Doris is one of only two peer educators for the group. She spends a significant amount of her free time giving newly diagnosed patients, advice, guidance on disclosing their status to their partner, and help with their medication.
Since Doris is a seamstress and jewelry maker by trade, she teaches other HIV+ individuals how to make bracelets so they can sell them as a means of generating income for themselves and the Wisdom Association. Doris enjoys being involved with her community, "it makes me happy to help others who feel alone when they find out about their status."
Story provided by (RED).