Mariam and her twins, Hussein and Hassan. (Photo: EGPAF)
Mariam, 32, lives in Rwanda
and is married with four children. She learned she was HIV-positive in 2008, when she visited an antenatal clinic while pregnant with twins.
Mariam's 14-month-old twins, Hussein and Hassan, were born in Kiziguro Hospital and have received continued treatment at Rugarama Health Center. Both of these facilities are supported by the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.
When Mariam discovered she was HIV-positive, she was very afraid for herself and her unborn babies. But her counselors at the clinic assured her that with proper treatment, she could still give birth to healthy children.
Mariam disclosed her status to her husband, and he was hesitant to get tested himself. Mariam later learned that he had been secretly tested for HIV before but never told her. Thanks to a counselor’s advice, Mariam’s husband finally agreed to be tested again, and not surprisingly his results were positive.
Mariam successfully delivered Hussein and Hassan via cesarean section, and both she and her twins received treatment to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV. Following the advice of her health care providers, Mariam exclusively breastfed the twins for six months and then enrolled them into the U.S. government-supported infant feeding program.
The twins were tested for HIV at six weeks, five months, and nine months old, and the results were negative each time.
Mariam now lives a healthy and happy life with her family, and thanks to the Foundation—Rugarama Health Center program, she has hope for the future. Mariam has access to medical treatment, HIV education, and counselors for emotional support. Best of all, her babies are healthy and HIV-free. “I am happy that my children tested HIV-negative, and I don’t intend to have more children,” said Mariam.