A 47-YEAR-OLD woman of Pemba who has being living with HIV for over two decades has encouraged other people to know their statuses so that they could live healthy lives.
Jennifer Mwendabai of Hamazongo village said treatment is available for people who are HIV-positive but one should first get tested.
Ms Mwendabai commended Government for providing free anti-retroviral drugs (ARV) to people living with HIV, saying this has helped the poor who cannot afford to buy drugs.
She said this in Choma during the commemoration of the Safe Motherhood week.
“I was among the first people to disclose my HIV status in Southern Province in 1999, and afterwards I began my anti-retroviral therapy (ART) in 2000. Since then I have been living a healthy life,” she said when Southern Province minister Nathaniel Mubukwanu together with Elizabeth wife of Minister of Transport, Works, Supply and Communications Yamfwa Mukanga, toured the ART stand that was mounted by Choma General Hospital.
Ms Mwendabai thanked Government for ensuring that ARV’s are available to people living with HIV/AIDS.
“When I started taking ARVs in 2000, it was expensive for me because the drugs were being sold at K40. Now I am happy that I can access the drugs for free…I am urging other people, especially women to know their statuses to that they can be put of medication that can help prolong their lives,” she said.
Ms Mwendabai said she intends to establish an organisation that will address the plight of people living with HIV because she wants to give other people hope.
She said she could have contracted HIV at the age of 18 when she ventured into commercial sex, but she has lived on for about 29 years because of a positive attitude and adherence to treatment.
But Ms Mwendabai, however, regretted the high levels of stigma in Pemba against people living with HIV.
And Mr Mubukwanu, who pledged Government’s continued support to improve the welfare of people living with HIV/AIDS, said it is regrettable that certain communities are still stigmatising people living with HIV.