Sarah Acuda – Saving other moms from the fear of passing HIV to their children
Sarah Acuda is a widow and mother in Boro Boro, Uganda. After her husband died in 2007, she was persuaded by neighbours to be tested for HIV. At the time, testing was not available at local clinics and she had to travel to the hospital in Lira. Sarah tested positive and immediately started septrin treatment (ARVs didn’t become available in northern Uganda until 2009).
Sarah has three children of which the youngest is just nine years old and the eldest 16. Her three younger children have all thankfully tested negative for HIV, but her eldest as of yet refused to be tested, fearful that a positive result would dramatically change the future.
Wishing she had had access to testing and counseling earlier, Sarah was one of the first in her community to volunteer to be trained as part of the new Village Health Team established through a CAP/AIDS Network initiative. As a VHT member she is charged with educating the community and encouraging community members to seek out HIV testing and services. Today she is an advocate and mentor to young mothers, helping to make sure that all women know their status and, if need be, receive prevention of mother-to-child transmission services during pregnancy and childbirth.
Sarah remembers all too vividly the fear she felt at the thought that she might have unknowingly passed on HIV to her children. If she has her way, no other mother in her village will ever have to go though that!