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Tanzania: the journey of an adolescent living with HIV

Gloria Macha • 

“Good health helped to revive my hope. I would like to tell other young people that living with HIV is not the end of life. The most important thing is to ensure to take your medication and treat infections as early as they emerge.”

Halima and friends at a teen club session at PASADA where she gets to learn, play and meet other adolescents infected and affected by HIV.

“Good health helped to revive my hope. I would like to tell other young people that living with HIV is not the end of life. The most important thing is to ensure to take your medication and treat infections as early as they emerge.”

Those are the powerful words of 16-year-old Halima, whom I met back in May while visiting a UNICEF partner – PASADA – working on HIV and AIDS in Dar es Salaam. Energetic and courageous, Halima shared with me her very touching and inspiring story about living with HIV and her positive journey through adolescence, thanks to the psychosocial support that she has received from PASADA. PASADA is a faith-based organization that supports 20 health facilities in Dar es Salaam, implementing various HIV testing and counselling (HTC) strategies, and referring HIV-positive clients for care, treatment and support, according to national norms and guidelines.

Halima told me that she did not know that she was born and living with HIV until she was 10-years-old when she developed some skin conditions and started to being stigmatized at school by her teacher and students, who used her appearance to assume that she was HIV positive. Halima was close to tears as she told me about this painful memory: “I felt lonely, I did not have friends to eat or play with, and most of my fellow students stigmatised me by saying that I was HIV infected, this upset me, as by then I did not know if it was true that I had HIV.”

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