HIV Positive Couple’s Commitment to Each Other, Their Community

A community health prevention volunteer demonstrates the proper use of condoms
A community health prevention volunteer demonstrates the proper use of condoms to a group of women in rural Mozambique in an effort to address HIV/AIDS. © 2009 Cindi Cohen, Courtesy of Photoshare

The parents of five children, Helena Nhampule and Mateus Langa have been together for over 16 years. They built their home in Maputo Province, Mozambique and lived happily until Mateus fell sick in 2007.

At first, Helena accompanied her husband for treatment at the local traditional healer. For a short time her husband’s health seemed to improve but it quickly began to deteriorate again.

It was at that time that Helena participated in Tchova Tchova, Historias de Vida Diálogos Comunitários (TTHV), a series of community dialogues led by the USAID funded project PACTO. Implemented by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Center for Communication Programs (JHU∙CCP) and the Fundação para o Desenvolvimento da Comunidade (FDC), PACTO works towards reducing HIV transmission and stigma and increasing use of HIV services in Mozambique.

Helena was inspired by the life stories showcased during the sessions, particularly those that portrayed the health challenges experienced by Mateus. She convinced her husband to get a medical checkup at the local health center.

Following his doctor’s advice, Mateus got tested for HIV. When he returned home that day, he revealed the results to his wife. He was HIV positive.

Helena was taken aback by her husband’s diagnosis; however, she supported him and decided to get tested herself, soon learning that, like her husband, she too was HIV positive.

For Helena and Mateus, finding out who brought HIV into their family was not important. Instead, they chose to accept their HIV positive status and learn to live with a positive outlook.

Helena expresses her gratitude to TTHV for helping her confront her condition. It enabled her to get more information about HIV/AIDS and overcome many barriers that initially kept her from disclosing her status to her family and the rest of the community. Her husband also joined the TTHV sessions.

Today, Helena and Mateus are an exemplary couple in their community. In addition to disclosing their HIV positive status, they provide support and share the knowledge they acquired from the TTHV dialogues to the families in their community who are coping with similar situations.

“Helena and Mateus’s positive attitude has served as an inspiration for many other community members to have an HIV test and find out their HIV status,” shared a TTHV facilitator.

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