Keeping Families HIV-Free this Father’s Day
Most couples don’t make getting tested for HIV part of their wedding plans. But when single parents Lovemore and Fungai got engaged, they decided it was a good idea before blending their families. Zimbabwe, where they live, is one of countries hardest hit by HIV.
Even still, they were shocked when the counselor at PSI’s New Start center gently told them that their test results weren’t the same. While Fungai tested HIV negative, Lovemore was diagnosed with the disease. This is their story.
Lovemore is a truck driver from Harare, Zimbabwe. “My son stays with his grandmother because I travel so much,” says Lovemore. “But I’m glad I can come home to him and to Fungai, who I hope to marry this year.”
Lovemore met Fungai a year ago through her aunt. “We had so much in common – both in our thirties, divorced with a child,” says Fungai, who lives with her daughter.
Recently, Fungai saw an ad on TV for PSI’s New Start HIV counseling and testing centers. It showed a couple that got tested for HIV before getting married. With her wedding to Lovemore fast approaching, Fungai thought it was a good idea.
“Lovemore and I are starting a new life together,” she says. “We should know each other’s HIV status, especially since we’ve been married before. He was very supportive of the idea.”
During their visit to the New Start center, counselors gave the couple information about HIV, ways to prevent the illness, and the New Life Center where those who test positive can get support.
“The counselor who gave us our test results was very kind,” says Lovemore. “She softly explained that our results were not the same. I was HIV positive while Fungai was HIV negative.”
Zimbabwe is one of the countries hardest hit by HIV. 14% of adults are infected. Most HIV transmissions occur in long-term relationships, among couples of differing HIV status. The New Start network tests 35,000 people each month. 18% of them are couples like Lovemore and Fungai.
“At first we were shocked,” says Fungai. “But the counselor comforted us. She said HIV was not a death sentence. Today there’s treatment available that makes living with HIV just like living with a chronic disease.”
The counselors at New Start also told the couple about family planning. Both Lovemore and Fungai had wanted to wait to have another child. Fungai chose to get a contraceptive implant and returned the next day for the insertion.
“Lovemore and I always used condoms during sex and we will continue doing so,” says Fungai. “With the implant, I have double protection – from pregnancy and HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.”
“I’m so thankful that Fungai is supportive,” says Lovemore. “We’re looking forward to our life together, with our children.”June 16, 2017