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I am a married woman, we have 2 healthy children, with my husband and my husband is HIV positive and surprisingly I am negative. I think my husband has been positive since we got married in 1996 because he had been sick, on and off, since we got married. Sometimes, he would have genital herpes, continued flu, stomach pains and in 2001 he had TB.

When we got married I thought he was fine but when I noticed the genital herpes we resorted to using protection each time we met. After my husband suffered from TB, I went for HIV testing alone and the results were negative, I asked my hubby to go for the test but he refused.  He got well from TB and he looked healthy and we thought nothing was wrong and we thought it was ordinary TB and not HIV related. But still I doubted it so we continued using protection each time we met. I needed another baby so I counted my days when I was very fertile thus 11 to 12 days after my menstruation, we did not use protection for those 2 days and after that we went back to our system. I thank God I conceived and gave birth to a healthy baby girl, I was tested again I was still negative. My husband did not go for testing, he used to say if me as his wife was negative so it meant that he was also negative.

Now it happened that on the 3rd January 2005, the first day at work from the Christmas and New year's holiday at around 8 Oí clock pm, we went to bed and we were taking about the day's work and suddenly my hubby started to have some convulsions and I touched him, I called him he could not answer me, I shook him, I cried, prayed and called for help. He was taken to the hospital and the doctors helped him and I was told that he had a stroke, his veins in the brain had ruptured and a potion in the brain had blood cloths. The doctor could not do anything and an operation was a non starter because it was right in the brain.  He was then tested for HIV and he was positive, he was put on ARVs.

He is now unable to talk, walk or do anything. I used to take him for physio therapy but have since stopped due to financial constraints. He is still alive but he is completely paralyzed and has been bed ridden since 2005. Itís really sad and if only he had maybe, gone for tests much earlier he could have gone on medication before the stroke. It has not been easy, and some people are now saying he must stop taking medication, because the medication is sustaining him. I don't want him to die but his situation is just bad. His mother does everything for him whilst I am at work and it has been three years now, there is no improvement its becoming even worse because of lack of exercises. I donít know what to do. I donít know how to help him, should he stop medication so that he just die and rest, my fellow friends I am confused and worried. His mother is now tired because she is the one who spends most of the time with him. Itís a sad story to say the least.

It is indeed a sad story and my heart really goes out to you. Very fortunate, though, that your children and you remain negative.

I appreciate how difficult this dilemma is but I don't think it would be right for me or anyone else who's not part of your family to tell you what to do. I would say this though; withdrawing ARVs is unlikely to mean your husband will pass quickly. It could well be a very long and drawn-out process as he gradually acquires opportunistic infections and gets worse. It could make the task of caring for him more demanding still. I'm not sure the people who have been expressing this opinion fully realise this.

There were a few things I was wondering about:

- I understand your husband is unable to speak but is he able to communicate his thoughts and wishes to you in some other way?

- if he can't communicate at all, then what do you believe his wishes would be concerning the situation he is in now? After all, you probably know him better than anyone else.

- I don't know where you live, but would there be any chance of getting outside help to assist in caring for him? Perhaps from Social Services or from an ASO (AIDS Service Organisation)?

Sorry not to be of more help - but it is obvious to me you love your husband and that you have his best interests at heart - I have no doubt whatever decision you make will be the right one.

I am sorry I am unable to answer this question for you as well.

I second Keyite's question to you:  is there any way at all for your husband to express his wish to you?  Perhaps you could check with the hospital to find out if there is any type of assistance for you and your husband.  Does he have a will that was prepared that you could refer to? 

Your story touches at my heart and I wanted you to know this.


Thank you very much for your responses and concern. God bless you.

I am in Zimbabwe, and really, there is not much help one can get from the hospital unless if you have the finances. For ordinary Zimbabweans its pathetic to say the least. My hubby wishes to live and he hopes to wake up one day and walk again, but his situation surely forbides, unless God works out a miracle. 

I am glad you replied.  I have thought a lot about you and your husband.
I am sure you are helping him as much as you can, as is his mother, and your children -- that is admirable.
I am hoping for that miracle for you -- I really am.

You and your family continue to be in my thoughts.


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