Abiyot Godana discovered she was HIV-positive in 1997. Newly married, she had applied for a job that required her to test. When the test shocked her, Abiyot’s husband was subsequently tested. His test came back negative.

Bracing for the unimaginable

Abiyot quickly fell ill and became depressed. She was told that she would be unable to have children.

Her husband stood by her but not everybody was so supportive. Some members of the community shunned Abiyot and even refused to let her nephews and nieces play with their children.

When he heard about new medicines that could help people living with HIV, Abiyot’s husband took her to the clinic and Abiyot started treatment.

In 2003, she discovered she was pregnant and enrolled on a program aimed at preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV at the Black Lion Hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It was there that she gave birth to her son, Mikias, who was born free from HIV. She also has a daughter, Mekedelawit, also born free from the virus.

LEAD BY EXAMPLE: After her children were born HIV-negative, Abiyot Godana is encouraging women to know their status.

Spreading the story

Now Abiyot, who works on her food stall, encourages other women to get tested for HIV.

“I tell women that it is so important to get tested and know their HIV status,” says Abiyot. “If they’re pregnant, I tell them to give birth at a clinic or hospital—not at home. They need to know it is possible to have an HIV-free baby if they deliver at a health facility.”

Abiyot hopes that her experience is an example to other women living with HIV, so that they learn that it is possible to have a family, to work and to live a happy and healthy life.

“I am very happy that my children are free from the virus. They are my testimony and I even consider myself free when I look at them,” she adds. “The thought of having a family free of HIV, children free of HIV, brings so much joy to my life.”