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(RED) friend Connie checks in to tell us what she’s grateful for today on her birthday & ARV anniversary: 
Today is a very special day to me. It is the day when the gift of life was given to me.  On October 13th, I was born, Constance Ntombizodwa Mudenda, the sixth of seven girls.

I led a normal life childhood, went to school, played with my friends (I was a tom boy!), and helped my parents at home.

In my late teenage years I meet a handsome man who to me was heaven sent. I was in love! At the age of 19, and to the disappointment of my parents, I eloped with my knight in shining armor. We lived happily in our little love nest and I fell pregnant. We were very excited!

Unfortunately, the joy was short-lived. My first child was born and sickly from birth. I had a second child – he was fine – but eight months later, he fell sick and died days after his first birthday. I had my third child, who died two months after birth. My first child died a few months later.  At the time, we didn’t know why tragedy was always on our doorstep.

It was not an easy path for me. Throughout my married life I was grieving.

Eight years after the death of my first child, who was the last to die, I decided to go for an HIV test – I was positive.

On this day – October 13th – 11 years ago, I was given ANOTHER gift of life – I started taking ARVs (antiretroviral medication). My CD4 count had decreased such that I need treatment and thankfully I started taking medication before I fell sick.

These ARVs have kept me alive for 11 years. I can’t even imagine how many tablets I have swallowed in this period.  And I am so grateful for every life-giving pill that’s crossed my lips.   I tried to count when I hit one year on medication and it added up to more than 1,400 tablets!

I’m no longer married, but I have been faithful to my true love, our relationship is till death do we part – my ARVs, my life.

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