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TERAPROOF:User:desbreenDate:09/11/2010Time:09:55:08Edition:10/11/2010Wedwedecho101110Page:13 Zone:EE

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(YHQLQJ (FKR Wednesday, November 10, 2010 NEWS 13

‘People were shocked when I told them I was HIV positive’
WITH her bright eyes, shining smile
and flowing curls, Lucy Njuka does
not look HIV positive.
Then again, what does a HIV positive
person look like?
In Zambia today, many look healthy,
happy and are leading normal lives.
Lucy Njuka is a second-year law
student at the University of Zambia
and was diagnosed as HIV positive in
February 2008.
Her mother died when she was six
years old, her father when she was
11, she now lives with her four
siblings in Lusaka.
Lucy said: “I had a problem with
anaemia and I got a cough.
“I found I couldn’t concentrate so I
got tested.
“I’ve been on ARV since July 2008
and it has really helped. I had to
withdraw from my studies for a while
so that my body could get used to it. I
had very bad side effects at the
beginning.”
Lucy was on two types of drugs at
the time as she was also being
treated for TB.
She is now back at her studies,
having picked up from where she left
off.
Discussing how others her age
perceive HIV, she said people are
more informed about HIV, but said a
fear still exists.
Lucy said: “There is a fear, but
people think that if they’re not Lucy Njuka is a second-year law student at the University of Zambia and
positive, that nothing can happen to was diagnosed as HIV positive in February 2008. Picture: Amy Colley
them.
“People were shocked at first when I siblings brought to the hospice, you think the companies will release
told them I was HIV positive, but they where she was treated for free and it?
are fine now.” released four days later. “ARV has brought in a lot of money
Recalling her reaction when she was With widespread fear in Zambia that for the drugs companies. The more
first diagnosed, she said: “Your first the free ARV scheme will be people that are infected, the more
reaction is that you can’t get married withdrawn, Lucy said that she would money they will make.
or have a boyfriend, but when I like to stock up on the drugs for a “If a cure is found, there won’t be any
researched HIV, it became easier to number of years. funds for ARVs and they will
understand. “There is a fear out there and if it concentrate on selling the cure.”
“My situation has taught my siblings, happens, people who are tested However, despite her fears, Lucy is
but I’m not the first in the family to be positive will just be waiting to die. thinking about focusing on the future
HIV positive.” “I’d like to stock up on a year’s and is thinking about becoming a
When I met her, she was a patient of supply, but the maximum you can get human rights lawyer and plans to
Our Lady’s Hospice in Kalingalinga is three months. lead a long, normal life like her
after becoming ill. Her worried “It is scary.. If they find a cure — do friends.

Mwiche Nanbela, Pharmacy Assistant at Our Lady's Hospice in Kalingalinga, with
some of the ARVs commonly used by HIV positive patients. Picture: Amy Colley

tinue to provide ARVs for everyone, the same age category.
but we need the drug companies to A number of factors, including
bring down their prices. gender inequality, contribute to the
“First line treatment is cheap, but higher prevalence among women.
second line treatment, which is re- Women are often taught never to
quired when patients develop resist- refuse their husbands sex or to insist
ance to drugs, is very expensive,” she their partner uses a condom.
said. In addition, young women in Zambia
“It is imprudent to give everything typically become sexually active earli-
for free. I think it would have been er than men, with a partner who will
better to pay a little and stretch it the be on average five years her senior,
funding available. who may already have had a number of
“If the free treatment scheme is with- sexual partners
drawn, our role will be much more At the Bauleni Community School in
about end of life care,” she added. Lusaka, St Mary Cathie MacInnes said
Unlike in some countries, HIV in teenage pregnancy is quite common
Zambia does not primarily affect the among students.
most underprivileged; infection rates “Last week, we found out that two
are very high among wealthier people sisters were expecting. One aged 16 is
and the better educated. in grade eight and is four months preg-
Sr Kay said: “You meet professional nant. She got married last month.
people who should know better about “Her sister, aged 17, is in grade nine
being promiscuous and not taking pre- and is also pregnant. She is due to get
cautions. married in December.”
“People think others will get infec- Children have also been much af-
ted, but not them.” fected by the Aids epidemic in Zambia
Although the HIV epidemic has and more than 95,000 children are HIV
spread throughout Zambia and to all positive.
parts of society, some groups are espe- This is an issue that will be ad-
cially vulnerable — most notably dressed in the fourth installment of our
young women and girls. series tomorrow.
HIV prevalence among young women ● Helen Walsh travelled to Zambia
is nearly four times than that of men in with misean cara.