She was ill and admitted to a hospital in the Northern Region for a while. When doctors wanted to test her blood, if HIV was the cause of her sickness, she always gave a cold shoulder. Saying, she is a born-again Christian and her sickness is one of life’s temptations not HIV.
Without her knowledge but with consent of her husband, the doctor tested her blood and she was HIV-positive. The development prompted the husband to go for an HIV test as well and he, too, was positive.
This is the family story of Davison (47) and Elizabeth (39) Mkandawire of Chirimba Township in Blantyre, who have clocked 18-years living with HIV in good health.
The two share their story to the willing ear and recently, they were at it during a candlelight memorial ceremony at Limbe police station under the theme Supporting the Future to Realise a Sustained HIV Free Generation.
Says Davison: “That was in 1997 and discrimination against people with HIV was at its peak. I had a lot of questions that increased distress because I did not have answers. When my wife was discharged, I disclosed the news. Weeks later, I accompanied her to the VCT [Voluntary Counselling and Testing] clinic. It was hard to bear the news, she was grieved for weeks.”
He adds they did not waste time arguing about the source of the virus in the marriage.
“While working for a certain company in Blantyre, I could be away from the work station for weeks and satisfied my sex desires right there. That can be the time. But it can also be my wife as I did not know what she was doing when I was away. All in all, we have the virus and needed to forge ahead,” he says.
After they acknowledged the development, months later Davison was active in promiscuous behaviour to make sure he infects many.
He confesses: “Some people have died because of me, I pray and asked for forgiveness. Now I am responsible and taking part to have an HIV-free generation in the country.”
For Elizabeth, abstinence from frequent sex is the secret keeping them 18-years in good health while living with the virus.
“Having sex more than thrice a month, we were told, is like digging our own graves despite taking the ARVs [antiretroviral therapy]. Besides, having safe sex is the othegr key, as we don’t have to share the virus,” she says, adding cold water helps their family calm when the urge is too high.
Davison adds that taking ARVs continuously is helping them a lot.
“God heals people. But no one, even prophets, should stop you from taking the drugs unless doctors say otherwise. God is helping us through ARVs. People do not believe us that we have HIV because of good health,” he asserts.
Davison is National Association for People Living with HIV and Aids in Malawi (Napham) facilitator in the populous Ndirande Township, Blantyre. He agrees with his wife abstinence, even on their marriage bed helps. That, he says, is their part as ARVs and God play vital roles as well.
Elizabeth says it is for the love of their children, aged 12, nine and six that they have followed all they were counselled.
“God willing, we do not have to die before our children are adults. We have three HIV-negative children who are doing excellent in school and they need our support,” she observes.