Presentation on theme: "Winning the Battle Against HIV Portrait of a strong, compassionate Myanmar woman unite for children."— Presentation transcript:
Winning the Battle Against HIV Portrait of a strong, compassionate Myanmar woman unite for children
Women and HIV in Myanmar Over the last few years, the proportion of women being infected with HIV has steadily grown, and today already one in three people living with HIV in Myanmar is a woman. The male-female ratio rose from almost 8:1 in 1994 to less than 2:1 in 2009, and is projected to be 1.6:1 by 2015. The disquieting trend shows the epidemic tilting toward married women and housewives – indicating that the largest number of newly infected women is actually getting the virus from their own spouse. This increasingly puts children at greater risk of mother-to-child transmission, and of becoming orphans if the mother does not receive HIV treatment in due time.
Here is the story of Aye Aye Myint - Wife and mother of four
Aye Aye Myint’s (43) life was dedicated to taking care of her children and working to make ends meet for the family. She was unaware of contracting HIV from her husband until she was pregnant with their fourth child 9 years ago. She did not know her husband was HIV positive. She felt betrayed.
After the initial shock, her own feelings were overridden by a gripping fear: Were her children also HIV positive?
Aye Aye Myint struggled with her feeling of anger and disappointment and gradually came to realize that she needed to overcome the bitterness and stand by her children.
The health staff asked to bring all three children for an HIV test. The third child, daughter Hnin Hnin Wai who was 4 at the time, was tested HIV-positive. The two others were negative. The status of her unborn child was yet unknown.
“I felt crushed and relieved all at once. Relieved for my two children who were HIV free. But terribly guilty for the one who was HIV positive. As a mother, I am supposed to give her life, not a deadly disease. I was also terrified for my unborn child.”
Tests after birth confirmed Aye Aye Myint’s youngest child was born free of HIV. Today, her daughter Shwe Htike is eight years old.
“The anti-retroviral drug given to me and my newborn was a life-saver. I am grateful for the PMTCT programme and the regular counseling I received.”
Aye Aye Myint started weaving again. Not only it helped her support her family, it is something she loved doing from an early age. “It gives me great joy to play with the colorful rows of cotton fibre in the loom to produce fabrics.”
She focused again on taking care of her family.
Aye Aye Myint’s oldest daughter Chit Su Naing, 20, started working as a tailor to earn some money and help take the pressure off her mother.
Aye Aye Myint, her husband and Hnin Hnin Wai continue on ARV treatment that helps them live healthy lives. Coming out of the crisis ever stronger, Aye Aye felt it was time for her to give back. Over the past years, she started voluntary counseling, going from home to home to counsel pregnant women – encouraging them on testing and prevention of HIV.
Following Aye Aye’s example, her husband also involved himself in the voluntary HIV prevention work in their community.
Even their daughters shared their experience and feelings on coping with HIV and building positive lives. With a local group of children affected and infected by HIV, they shared their aspirations on what they would like to be when grown up.
Aye Aye Myint went beyond national borders to advocate for prevention and care for HIV. She and her youngest daughter Shwe Htike participated in the UNICEF Charity Run 2011 in Hong Kong to help raise funds for the Unite for Children, Unite Against AIDS campaign.
Aye Aye Myint, her husband Winn Naing Soe and their four daughters turned the tide of HIV that threatened to consume their lives. Today, they live a positive life – protecting themselves with the ARV treatment, and helping others who may face the threat that they have managed to overcome.
Aye Aye Myint and her family members give full consent to UNICEF to publish her and her family’s photos and story in order to encourage others affected by HIV and to raise awareness on HIV prevention. UNICEF works with the National AIDS Programme of the Government of Myanmar and NGOs toward a HIV-free generation. The goal is to ensure that every child is born free of HIV and that their parents can access treatment as needed to help them lead healthy lives and take care of their children. Just as Aye Aye Myint and her family. unite for children