When Amara was pregnant with her second child, she was diagnosed with HIV. Amara’s PACPI case manager talked her through the pregnancy and helped provide various types of support including housing.
“She made me feel really comfortable and even checked in with me after my child was six months old.”
She never thought of herself as a “kid person” but now that she’s a mother with her third child on the way, tears are in her eyes as she imagines not being the one to take care of her children.
“If anything happened to me, who would take care of my child? I don’t have a choice to be on my medicine; I want to stay alive and be around for my kids.”
Melissa is just as happy as a newlywed can be. She married Derek last year and now they are pregnant with twins. Melissa was perinatally infected with HIV, meaning she contracted HIV from her mother when she was born, and now she is working with a PACPI case manager.
On taking medicine each day: “It was as natural to me as having hands.”
But Melissa learned from a young age that she couldn’t trust everyone with the knowledge that she was HIV-positive; supposed friends would one day just disappear from her life. Melissa and Derek have been through ups and downs together, including being homeless and moving to Illinois from across the country. They recently attended a PACPI prenatal class together.
“I’ve had a lot of case managers through my years, and my PACPI case manager is fantastic. [With a case manager] some things may be offered to you that you didn’t know about, especially in a low-income situation.”
Derek adds, “If you want to learn more and get help, connect with PACPI.”
“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.”