Mother-daughter team preaches gospel of HIV prevention - News, Weather and Classifieds for Southern New England

Mother-daughter team preaches gospel of HIV prevention

Updated:
© iStockphoto.com / Sebastian Kaulitzki © iStockphoto.com / Sebastian Kaulitzki
  • HealthMore>>

  • Too few teens receive HPV shot

    Too few teens receive HPV shot

    An "unacceptably low" number of girls and boys are getting the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, which protects against cervical, anal and other cancers, U.S. health officials said Thursday.
    An "unacceptably low" number of girls and boys are getting the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, which protects against cervical, anal and other cancers, U.S. health officials said Thursday.
  • Teenage boys want intimacy, not just sex

    Teenage boys want intimacy, not just sex

    The stereotype of the sex-crazed teenage boy may be dead wrong, according to a small study that asked boys what they really want from romantic relationships.
    The stereotype of the sex-crazed teenage boy may be dead wrong, according to a small study that asked boys what they really want from romantic relationships.
  • Bacteria in semen may affect HIV transmission, levels

    Bacteria in semen may affect HIV transmission, levels

    Human semen is naturally colonized by bacteria, and a new study suggests the microbes might have a role to play in both HIV transmission and levels in infected men.
    Human semen is naturally colonized by bacteria, and a new study suggests the microbes might have a role to play in both HIV transmission and levels in infected men.

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Dec. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Fortunata Kasege was just 22 years old and several months pregnant when she and her husband came to the United States from Tanzania in 1997. She was hoping to earn a college degree in journalism before returning home.

Because she'd been in the process of moving from Africa to the United States, Kasege had not yet had a prenatal checkup, so she went to a clinic soon after she arrived.

"I was very excited to be in the U.S., but after that long flight, I wanted to know that everything was OK," she said. "I went to the clinic with mixed emotions -- excited about the baby, but worried, too," but she left the appointment feeling better about the baby and without worries.

That was the last time she'd have such a carefree feeling during her pregnancy.

Soon after her appointment, the clinic asked her to come back in: Her blood test had come back positive for HIV.

"I was devastated because of the baby," Kasege said. "I don't remember hearing anything they said about saving the baby right away. It was a lot to take in," she added.

"I was crying and scared that I was going to die," she said. "I was feeling all kinds of emotions, and I thought my baby would die, too. I was screaming a lot, and finally someone told me, 'We promise we have medicine you can take and it can save the baby and you, too.' "

Kasege started treatment right away with zidovudine, which is more commonly called AZT. It's a drug that reduces the amount of virus in the body, known as the viral load, and that helps reduce the chances of the baby getting the mother's infection.

"I had to take it every four hours, even in the middle of the night, so I set an alarm for the middle of the night," she said. "I had to make sure my baby would be OK. I had to do it precisely perfectly for my baby, and I didn't miss a dose. In 1997, the chance of transmission was said to be 12 percent, but my doctors said don't worry, we haven't seen anyone who's adhered to the medicine have a baby with HIV. And they were correct. My baby was healthy. And I was healthy. It was such a happy time that came from the worst feeling."

Kasege had a daughter, and she named her Florida. The baby's test came back negative for HIV, but to be safe, Kasege enrolled her in a study that tracked little Florida for two years to be sure she didn't develop HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. And, she didn't.

Florida is now 16 years old, and for years she's been helping her mother spread the word about preventing HIV infection. Kasege is an ambassador for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.

"I want other women with HIV to know that you can have a good ending," Kasege said. "Your story doesn't have to end tragically. It's a bad feeling for a mom to even think about it. But, you can protect your baby. Be hopeful and stick to the treatment, and your baby will be fine."

Kasege's faithful adherence to her medication hasn't helped just her daughter but has helped her as well.

"My virus is undetectable, and it's been that way since three months after I started taking the medication," she said. "I worry about other things now, raising a teenager. I don't worry about HIV."

More information

This HealthDay story describes the gains in the fight against pediatrics AIDS cases in the United States.

Health News Copyright © 2013 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

*DISCLAIMER*: The information contained in or provided through this site section is intended for general consumer understanding and education only and is not intended to be and is not a substitute for professional advice. Use of this site section and any information contained on or provided through this site section is at your own risk and any information contained on or provided through this site section is provided on an "as is" basis without any representations or warranties.
Powered by WorldNow

23 Kenney Drive
Cranston, R.I., 02920

Telephone: 401.455.9100
Fax: 401.455.9140
Email: news@wjar.com

Can't find something?

NBC 10 Outerwear Provided by:

NBC 10 Media Relations
Provided by:

Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.