Saskia (35)

care worker with the mentally impaired
boyfriend: none
children: one daughter (15 months old)
HIV+: 4 years
HIV meds: none
viral load: not concerned about it
CD4-cell count: 800

I wasn’t permitted to breastfeed my baby
I only had unsafe sex once, my very first time with a man. I didn’t realise what the risk was till later. Pretty naive, you could say. A year later I had a relationship with another man from Kenya. I told him about it right away. He reacted very openly and wasn’t distant. When I got back to the Netherlands, I discovered I was pregnant. Apparently I’m easily susceptible to everything!


I had to start taking antiretrovirals twice a day in the twentieth week of my pregnancy. Not for myself, but to protect the baby. Because of my HIV I had to give birth in hospital and I wasn’t allowed to breastfeed Noni. Noni was given antiretrovirals for the first month. I had to give her a sweet liquid four times a day. Noni was tested for HIV right after her birth and again after six weeks. She’ll be tested one more time when she’s a year and a half, just to be certain. It was only after they told me she’s HIV-free that I realised I had felt stressed about it.

I just finished going through a difficult period. My daughter is fifteen months old now and I’m raising her alone. I started working again at the beginning of this year, after my pregnancy leave ended. I hadn’t been feeling healthy for a while. My CD4-cell count had dropped from 800 to 350. My doctor said right away that I probably had an infection and I’d get over it, but it was terribly confrontational: something can suddenly happen inside your body and you’re not in control of it. I could immediately start to imagine disaster scenes. As a single mother, there could quickly be serious consequences if I became ill, and with HIV you never know what might suddenly happen. Then I slowed things down a bit. Two months later my CD4 count was about 800 again and I felt better.


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