Personal Stories

Janet Arinaitwe Answers 10 Questions On Being A Mother Living With HIV


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Janet Arinaitwe is a mother living with HIV.

At 17, her mother told her about her own status but Janet didn’t know that it could have been transmitted to her from birth.

At 19, when Janet had her first sexual experience, she went to the hospital for a vaginal swab test, to know if she is free from any sexually transmitted disease. While she was free from STDs, her doctor told her that she is HIV positive.

When Janet found out about her status, she told her mum, who was also shocked that she had transmitted the disease to her daughter from birth. Although, Janet’s  grandmother knew she was born with the disease because she took her for a test when she was 6 but she didn’t disclose it to Janet’s mother so as not to upset her.

Thankfully, Janet has two children and they are free from the disease. She is presently carrying the third child, who is also tested to be free.

Having children who are free from the disease was challenging for Janet but since it was something she could manage, she took it seriously.

“I took my medications regularly. I visited my doctors on time. I followed all the advice. Eventually I got the results I wanted,” she told VICE, noting that she is the first person in the UK to have three consecutive children who are HIV-negative.

Having C-sections, choosing not to breastfeed and taking her medications on time are some of the steps Janet takes to ensure delivering healthy children.

As an HIV-postive person, pregnancy is challenging for Janet.

“I’ve had adverse reactions to medications. My feet do get swollen, extremely swollen. My ankles, my bones hurt, extreme fatigue. I’m always vomiting and its not like your normal little vomit. I vomit like 20 times a day”, she said.

Because of the stigma that Janet faced in her home country, Uganda, and still faces in the UK, she is worried about her children and doesn’t want them to be stigmatised because of her. Janet is rethinking how to protect them from it all.

Watch her speak here

10 Questions to Ask an HIV-Positive Parent

Janet Arinaitwe was born with HIV but didn’t find out until she was 19 years old. There's still a huge amount of ignorance about HIV and AIDS. Here Janet answers some of the key questions.

Posted by VICE on Tuesday, September 18, 2018

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