“I don’t tell many people I have HIV.” That’s a phrase we hear over and over. This is the same thing Jasmine told me.
Jasmine is 27 years old and has three amazing children.
She first learned she had HIV five years ago when her second child was diagnosed with HIV as a newborn.
A local health center called the 24/7 Illinois Perinatal HIV Hotline in 2015 to connect Jasmine to PACPI case management when she was pregnant with her third child.
Connection to care is vital to prevent HIV transmission during pregnancy.
Jasmine’s housing situation is not great – she shares a room with all three of her children in Chicago’s Far South Side. But she lives with her parents who love her children and help care for them. This was especially important this year when, because Jasmine was working, cuts to the Child Care Assistance Program disqualified her middle child, who was not yet in kindergarten, from continuing daycare.
Things haven’t been easy – her kindergartner didn’t like the taste of her HIV medication and wasn’t keeping it down. Jasmine would struggle keeping up with the medications for herself and her child; sometimes she would forget if she’d taken her own or not. She also had to work on changing her diet and take iron supplements. It was a lot at one time.
Thanks to PACPI donors, Jasmine’s PACPI case manager connected her whole family to regular HIV, obstetric, and pediatric care and additional support services.
And Jasmine’s newborn does not have HIV!
“Navigating the healthcare system, it’s easier doing it all with her [my case manager] – getting to appointments, filling prescriptions. She helps me on the spot, while we’re sitting together.”
Even being connected to regular care, Jasmine, her infant, and her middle child all get their care at different health centers which makes attending appointments a huge challenge.
Missing medical appointments due to cost and time is one of the big issues PACPI clients face. This can affect their adherence to their HIV medications, prevent opportunities for learning about best health practices during and after pregnancy, and can poorly affect their children’s health if they miss pediatric appointments.
Jasmine’s case manager was available to help Jasmine coordinate transportation during her pregnancy so she could prevent HIV transmission to her baby and to help her other children receive care.
Having the case manager coordinate care and services made life better for this young mother.
“The best part about my PACPI case manager is access – I could contact her when I needed to and she made other opportunities available to me like support groups, transportation, and benefits. I don’t tell many people about my [HIV] status but was able to talk to her about it.”
Her inspiration to be healthy is to be here for her kids. After attending PACPI’s pilot workshop on HIV disclosure, Jasmine is working on how to tell her loved ones about her HIV status.
Jasmine, on the workshop, “I’ve never been in a group like this. It’s comfortable talking with the other women; I don’t feel judged.”
Even Jasmine’s parents do not know she has HIV. She is afraid of how they might react when they find out both she and one of her children have HIV. Currently, they help administer medication to her kindergartner but they don’t know what it’s really for.
As her case manager said, “It’s not easy to build rapport with clients, it takes time. I ask questions and see what the client chooses to share. Some of the issues these women have is bigger than you and me. I’m here to assist.”
Jasmine is an example of what a connection to care can do.
Donate to PACPI today so we can continue providing full case management services to Illinois women and infants amid a budget impasse that is withholding more than $750,000 for PACPI services.