AIDS- CC via Pixabay/geralt AIDS- CC via Pixabay/geralt

AIDS: A ghost haunting children’s innocence

Thu, Aug. 16, 2018
CAIRO – 16 August 2018: In silence, a 3-year-old child lies down on his bed of illness, suffering from the bad luck of being a son to an unscrupulous HIV-positive father. Yahya was born AIDS-positive due to his father’s risky sexual relations.

Since the first day of Yahya’s birth, it was easy to spot the differences between him and other children. He does not grow normally like other children. He does not eat or drink the same as they do, and he suffers from serious complications in his lungs, and other symptoms and pains.

“I committed a crime against my son when I accepted to spend my life with an irresponsible husband, who ruined my life and subjected me to beating and humiliation. I wished I had succeeded both times I tried to commit suicide. My son indulged into the scourge that he inherited from his father,” said Yahya’s mother, Marwa, who was granted divorce due to her husband’s betrayal.

“AIDS was the dramatic end of the quagmire I lived in due to my ex-husband's abusive relationship with prostitutes and his friends," she said.

“I tried to commit suicide and to abort my child when I learned that my husband was infected with AIDS, but I failed. Then, I escaped to my family, who threw me out,” she explained. “They [her family members] told me that they were scared of me transmitting the virus to them despite the doctor's confirmation that I had not contracted the virus yet. They forced me to return to him [her husband] and to live with him as if we were in a closed prison. I was constantly anxious, waiting to find out that I was infected with the virus. "

“I gave birth to my son Yahya. When I saw him for the first time, I was scared when the doctors told me that my son was AIDS-positive. The disaster occurred when we discovered that my son and I both had the virus, now. Our lives were destroyed,” the mother said.

“My son is getting sicker by the second and his condition is worsening because of his weak body. His growth has stopped and that resulted in chronic symptoms, and serious problems in the lungs," she said.


The mother finally got divorced by a family court ruling after she submitted medical results proving that her husband was the reason for her suffering. Marwa is now living on aid and works as a saleswoman in a shop without revealing the reality of her illness to avoid people’s judgmental looks and moral accusation against her.

Paying the price of silence

“Death, sometimes, could be less severe than seeing your child suffering and paying the price of silence to domestic violence and the husband’s disgraceful behavior. The price of accepting life with that man. The price of submission to his threats and blackmailing,” said Zeinab, a 39-year-old wife, whose daughter contracted the virus from her father.

“My husband, Y.K., used to travel and work abroad. He returned home only on vacations, so it was difficult to have a baby with him. I also dreamt of having a baby until the miracle occurred and God gave me my daughter Bassant. Having a baby made me forget my husband’s violence and anger and my miserable life, which would almost end several times with divorce,” said Zeinab.

“When my husband returned home to reside with us, he was very sick. I tried to find out the reasons behind his suffering, but he was always refusing to tell me anything. He isolated himself and rarely came close to me or my child,” she continued.

“When my 6-year-old daughter fainted and her body turned weak and she started vomiting blood, I rushed to a doctor, who told me that she was infected with HIV,” she added, saying “I was unable to utter a word. When I returned home, my husband told me about the calamity that was to ruin our lives forever.”

"My husband cheated on me. I was exploited because of my kindness after I stood with him for 11 years. I had to endure his despicable actions and morals. He destroyed the only hope for which I live: my daughter. I wait for the death of my child all time, ever since the doctor told me that she only had three to five years left. I have to live with her away from everyone, to feel safe.”

Children with HIV are rarely cured and physicians estimate they only live between eight to 10 years.

A shock after a pleasant surprise

In another case, Youm7 talked with Taghreed, a mother of a 6-year-old child infected with HIV. “I spent miserable years with my husbands, during which I got divorced twice. But we got back together again because of my three children, [who should grow up between two parents]. I knew he was betraying me. I was sleeping with him even though I knew that he was having an affair.”

In Islam, spouses have the right to remarry twice after getting divorce. In the case that a husband divorces his wife for the third time, they can no longer remarry unless she marries another man first.

“His HIV infection was a pleasant surprise in retaliation for his bad deeds with me over all these years. I was smiling at him [when he was talking about his infection],” she said, adding that she was praying for his death.

“I realized later that he was beating and raping me when I refused to have sex with him. And then I realized my calamity,” she continued.

Taghreed continued, while crying, that her child was also infected with the virus. “My husband doesn't die, does not suffer any pain, and lives despite his health,” she said.

“My son and I were punished for living with that man,” said Taghreed, who filed for her divorce at Zananiri court.


Poverty that kills

Poverty pushed a 16-year-old girl to pay the price of getting married to a man from a Gulf State, who was married to several women for his pleasure only, subsequently leaving them and their children without any rights. The Arab man left Walaa G. and her child alone and she discovered later that she carries the virus. Her calamity peaked when the symptoms of the disease began showing on her face and parts of her body in 2010. She weighed less than 40 kilograms. By that time, the virus was transmitted to her child who lives illegally without a document proving the Arab man’s parenthood.

"When I became sick, I went to a clinic for abortion. I underwent several tests,” she said. “I saw her facial reaction of panic when she told me that I had AIDS. Due to my illiteracy, I did not know what she meant but realized that it was dangerous when she drove me out of the clinic and advised me to hide him from everyone,” she said.

“I went to several doctors after some good people helped me conduct tests for myself and my child. They confirmed that the disease was transmitted to my son too. That is the secret of his weakness and permanent illness,” Walaa continued.

"I would not have been able to pay for the treatment without the help I received from one of the charities in Imbaba. I could have been dead by now,” she said.

“HIV is transmitted from an HIV-positive mother to her child. Many mothers do not know that they are infected with the virus. The primary symptoms of the disease are the same ones exhibited by the influenza such as fever and diarrhea; the virus then stays in the body for a long time and its symptoms then appear,” said Pediatric physician Dr. Sobhy Abdel Moneim.

The possibility of transmitting the virus from mothers to their babies was estimated to be 20 percent. However, this percentage could increase during cesarean delivery, Abdel Moneim added

Facts and statistics:

• 10,000 people live with HIV according to the Minister of Health’s data, while anti-AIDS associations estimated the number at more than 230,000 cases.
• 880 cases were reported as of 2014; 812 persons still alive and 64 others are dead.
• Infected women represent 82 percent, compared to 18 percent for men
• 39 percent of cases were transmitted via sexual relations and 19 percent through drug addiction
• 2 percent of HIV-positive patients are mothers.

 
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