Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

Aid transforms life for HIV victims

HIV sufferer Felismina Pedro Wmbi Maholela and her ten-year-old daughter Madalena being treated at the busy Polana Canico clinic

An HIV infected mother has told how she and her daughter live normal lives on anti-viral drug treatment the Irish Government is helping to fund across Mozambique.

Thousands of victims across the former war-ravaged East African country have seen their lives turned around by the Irish-taxpayer backed medication programme.

As junior minister Joe Costello saw first hand the work of Irish Aid and the Clinton Foundation, local woman Felismina Pedro Wmbi Maholela revealed the stigma suffered by her and her ten-year-old daughter Madalena.

The schoolgirl has not been told she has HIV despite being able to read leaflets on the disease and anti-viral medication.

"It's hard to explain," her mother said in her native Portuguese through a translator. "We take the tablets at the same time and she asks but I don't go in to the detail."

"I just say this is a disease that most people have to teach her about hygiene. In the beginning there were some problems, even within my community and neighbourhood," she added.

The 38-year-old and her daughter Madalena were both tested in 2005 when Felismina showed up with tuberculosis at the busy Polana Canico clinic, run by the Clinton Foundation with Irish Government support.

Felismina was put on anti-virals but Madalena had to wait another three years for vital drugs.

"There were stigma issues because I was a sick person. But now, with treatment, it has improved. We have normal lives," Felismina said.

The mother and daughter, living in the community of Boane near the capital Maputo, are some of the 11.5% of the 30 million population with HIV. That figure soars to 28% in major cities.

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