By: HHS Office of Global Affairs (OGA) and The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF)“Today, it is possible to dream—when we thought that life was over,” says Teresa Joaquim Mbalane, a 50-year-old mother of four living with HIV in Mozambique. “Now I try to pass my experience on to others.”
As a subsistence farmer, Teresa depends entirely on farming and seasonal work for income. In 2003, she began battling an illness, making it impossible to work. Every time Teresa went to the health facility, she was treated for the symptoms she was presenting at the time, but she was never able to get completely well. When Teresa was diagnosed with tuberculosis—one of the diseases associated with HIV—she was referred for HIV counseling and testing. The test result was positive.
At that time, only four health facilities provided HIV treatment in her province, Gaza—which is 27,000 square miles and has a population of 1.3 million. Teresa remembers that there was a long waiting list to receive HIV treatment. Once she made it to the top of the list, medical care remained difficult to access because Teresa lived in Macia, nearly 40 miles from the health unit in Xai Xai, the provincial capital and the closest health facility with HIV treatment services at that time. Barely able to move because of illness and being financially strapped, Teresa had difficulty traveling for routine health consultations and medicine.
But when an HHS delegation led by the Office of Global Affairs met Teresa in 2015, she was dancing.
READ MORE: “It is Possible to Dream”