Ekoy (35)

assimilating into Dutch society
married: 7 years
children: one daughter (5)
HIV+: 3 years
HIV meds: 3 years
viral load: undetectable
CD4-cell count: 90

I had to start taking antiretrovirals right away
I had to flee the war in Sudan when I was nineteen. Later on, I had to flee again. It was too risky to take my baby with me, so I had to leave her behind. I lived in refugee camps for more than ten years. During that time I received an education. I did HIV counselling and took care of many people with HIV. In Africa, people with HIV are excluded from the community. Finally, I came to the Netherlands.

I have only had one boyfriend and now I’ve been married for seven years. I was always afraid to have myself tested for HIV. Would I be able to accept it if I had HIV? I thought my chance of having it was very slim because I had never been ill. There was nothing wrong with my body and I hadn’t lost weight. It wasn’t until I was in the Netherlands that I dared to be tested for HIV by my doctor. When he rang me up two weeks later to say that I should come in, I already knew enough. I haven’t seen my daughter for four years now. I don’t think she has HIV, as I didn’t breastfeed her and she looks very healthy. I think I got it after she was born.

In the hospital they found out that my immune system had been devastated: my CD4-cell count was 50, but I still felt healthy. I had to start taking antiretrovirals right away. I haven’t had any trouble at all with side effects. My HIV was already undetectable after three months. They can’t find any HIV in my blood any more.

When I’ve finished assimilating, I’m going to get more schooling. I provide education about HIV and I’m setting up a project to help people with HIV and AIDS in Africa.


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