A New Life, a new Hope: Beatrice & David

We met Beatrice in Nairobi’s Mathare Slum in 2010, and she shared her incredible story with us.

It was a story that sounded tragically familiar — but Beatrice gave us the chance to become a part of it and to change its ending for the better.

In 2010, our GHI Team had witnessed our system of care for mothers and babies with HIV (the HITSystem©) at work from a distance in many different cases —  but this small family was special.

We had the chance to get to know this brave woman on a personal level and to unite her story with ours.

Beatrice’s plight was all-too-familiar. Her husband contracted HIV from another woman, developed AIDS, and died just as Beatrice was turning 32 — but not before passing the virus to Beatrice.

But the story doesn’t end here — in fact, this was just its beginning: Beatrice became pregnant before her husband’s death.

When we first heard her story, we knew that without intervention, Beatrice’s baby had a 15 to 45% chance of being born HIV-positive. Fortunately, Kenya’s health system offers free HIV medications (called antiretroviral medications) to anyone who needs them —  if only they know about it and are willing and able to access them.

We knew that if we could get Beatrice on ARVs during her pregnancy, the chance of her precious baby being born with HIV could be as low as 1%. The deadly cycle could be stopped.

Beatrice’s baby, a son she named David, was born just a few months after Beatrice was diagnosed with HIV. We spent many long hours hoping and praying as we awaited David’s test results. We hoped that, for once, the odds would favor this HIV-positive widow and her defenseless newborn.

Thanks to the HITSystem’s© coordination of an amazing team on the ground, we were able to determine that David was HIV-negative within a few short weeks of his birth. We used specialized testing and care to minimize his chance of becoming infected after birth and taught Beatrice the things she needed to know to prevent David from becoming infected during infancy.

Beatrice and David were more than just another statistic. They were a mother and baby whose life-and-death battle with HIV we witnessed firsthand in 2010 — and this time, we won.

When David’s test results came back negative, we knew this was the moment we had been working for. We had broken the cycle of HIV/AIDS in the life of just one small family — and it was the start, we knew, of something much bigger.

We still see David and Beatrice today when we are back in Mathare. They fill our hearts with joy and hope for a future in which HIV/AIDS is only bad dream of past decades.

Five years later, GHI’s HITSystem© now serves over 25,000 mothers and babies across the continent of Africa.