Patients – not all HIV positive – in the waiting area of Munhava health centre on 09 April, the first day of the full re-opening of MSF’s HIV program after Cyclone Idai. The MSF-supported Munhava health centre covers one of Beira’s broadest catchment areas where there are some 8,000 patients with HIV.

"It was a strength that came from within, that motivated me to fight"

This is the story of Santos Estrela (not his real name), who is receiving treatment for advanced HIV from Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in Beira, Mozambique.

“Around 2014 or 2015, my wife was admitted to hospital. She was diagnosed with meningitis. That was when we found out she was HIV-positive. 

After my wife’s diagnosis, I took the test and found out I was HIV-positive too. I was depressed. My wife died shortly after and I struggled to cope with this new reality. I started drinking and smoking. I wasn’t any good at being around people anymore. I didn’t tell my family I had HIV and I didn’t follow the treatment. And it made my condition worse.

In 2020 I was admitted to Beira’s Central hospital. After taking the treatment properly, I got better. At that point, my family members found out I had HIV and supported me to continue following the antiretroviral treatment, and so did all the MSF staff in the hospital..

Every month, like clockwork, they [the MSF staff] would call me to check on my treatment. The counsellors, the nurses and the clinical care I received motivated me to keep going. I felt that I mattered. Santos Estrela

The support I received from my family members and those closest to me helped to improve my situation. My family made sure I had good, nutritious food to keep me healthy. I felt strong. It was a strength that came from within and it motivated me to fight.

I feel good now. I can do things I couldn’t do before. I don’t depend on others to do things for me. I’ve got my self-esteem back. The one thing I’d say to others in the same situation is that you must follow the treatment. It’s the treatment that prevents you from contracting other diseases and it will allow you to do your normal activities again.” 

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Press Release 14 December 2021