TAC Electronic Newsletter

11 May 2005

Important Upcoming TAC Events

Thursday 12 May 2005 (tomorrow), Cape Town: Interfaith Service: St Mark's Anglican Church, cnr Kaizergracht and St Mark's Streets. Time: 13h00.

Theme: Food, Health-care and Antiretroviral Treatment for all

You are invited to attend this interfaith service tomorrow to call for food security and better health-care for all South Africans, and access to antiretroviral treatment for all people with AIDS.

For further details call Thembeka Majali at the Western Cape Office 021 447 2593 / 95/ 98

Friday 13 May, Cape Town High Court, 9am: The Cape High Court will hear TAC's case to request that Matthias Rath be interdicted from defaming us. All invited to attend.

Thursday 19 May, Polokwane, Limpopo Province. March for better health-care in Limpopo Province. Meet at Mimosa Park next to SABC at 10am.

Tuesday 7 June 2005: Community Day of Action around the country. Theme: Treat at least 200 000 people with AIDS using antiretrovirals by March 2006. More details will follow in the next couple of weeks.

The May edition of TAC's newsletter, Equal Treatment, is out. Its focus is on traditional healers and medicine. If you wish to receive a free copy (conditional on postage costs being reasonable and available stock) or write a letter to the editor, please email et@tac.org.za with your name and full postal address. Equal Treatment is available in a low-resolution electronic format at:

http://www.tac.org.za/ET/EqualTreatmentMay2005Issue15.pdf

My right to have a child

As told to Skhumbule Hambani by Gugu Dubazana

I am Gugu Dubazana (25), HIV positive single mother of a two-year-old daughter Lungile and currently residing in Orange Farm, Johannesburg. I was involved with her father and we were inseparable. We were an item since High School and he was loving, caring and supportive but problems started when I became pregnant.

I found out about my HIV status during the first month of my pregnancy through my antenatal clinic. I didnít have the courage to tell the father at first, but through the information I had from the antenatal support group, I disclosed to him at two months of pregnancy. His reaction was mixed. First he cried, thinking of the babyís future; then he laughed because he knew that he was not alone and then said, "Iím sorry". He was then concerned about what was going to happen to the baby.

I became stronger by the day and joyful for bringing someone to this world. At six months I had shingles, I was scared of passing them to her and at the clinic they told me not to worry; the baby was fine. I was given acyclovir for the shingles.

Through knowing enough about the science of HIV and treatment I demanded nevirapine for my baby girl just after birth. Ten days after birth, a blood sample was taken from my baby and the results came back HIV-positive. She also had oral thrush that was treated using Nystatin. This worried me and at the postnatal support group I was later told that her positive results meant that she still hasnít produced her own antibodies; the HIV antibodies that showed the positive test could be mine.She did not necessarily have HIV. We could only be sure after 18 months [unless a more expensive PCR test is used - editor], those were my antibodies that were detected in the test. After a week she was well and she started to use cotrimoxazole as prophylactic treatment. I had to wait for 18 months before my baby could be tested. I was under a lot of stress with the fear that if she tested positive, she will have to take life-long treatment (ARVs). I lost weight and couldnít cope with the thought of having a baby taking on treatment every 12 hours everyday if she was HIV positive.

The day arrived and the results came back negative. I was over the moon with joy to an extent that I decided to do my CD4 count that was 500 before and now it was 606. To the people out there "Your life depends on you and you can make it on your own HIV-positive or not. Donít deprive yourself of the right to have a child", and to those who do not know their statuses "Know your status, know your CD4 count and access antiretroviral treatment".

[END OF STORY ABOUT GUGU DUBAZANA]